“Why do you talk about racism?” That’s the question I was asked by a man who had told me he was looking around for another church.
“Racism may have been a problem in your day, but we’re over it today,” the 30-something claimed.
“In your day” is kind of an “ouch” phrase, but I appreciate it. I don’t want to be guilty of bringing into the present the problems of the past.
But, is racism an ancient problem of days gone by? Oftentimes when I talk about racism, I get some push back:
“No one owns slaves.”
“I never see racism.”
“What I see is discrimination against whites.”
“We had a black President!”
What do you think?
Before you answer, read what happened to me last week.
I was at Sam’s Club in the fresh fruit section. A food sampling stand made the aisle really narrow and crowded. A narrow aisle and a wide cart. And, I didn’t park my cart very well. It was sticking out into the aisle a bit. Two African American ladies, maybe mother and daughter, were pushing their cart toward me. I smiled at them and said, “Hey, how ya doing?” while pulling my cart closer to the fruit display to make room for them to get through.
You need to know that in the section of the cart where we used to set our kids, I now set my “man-bag.” Yes, I carry one. That’s a topic for another post.
Another shopper passed by, leaned over to me, and said, “You were smart to protect your purse,” and kept right on walking.
I was stunned.
“Did I hear that right?”
“Did she really just say that?”
“Did she call my Man-Bag a purse?”
“Did she think I moved my cart out of fear that the two black ladies would steal my bag?”
Moving my cart, to her, was “smart?” Really?
That’s why I talk about racism.
Racism is not a thing of yesterday. It’s a thing today.
When I got home I told Denise about the experience. “Did you say something to the lady?” she asked. “No,” I answered, “I was too shocked. By the time I came back to my senses, she was gone.”
Let’s be shocked by the labeling we see and the labeling we do.
Whenever we’re labeling, we’re not seeing.
Let’s come to our senses.
Let’s challenge ourselves and others.
Our youth choir at Forest Park Baptist Church, Joplin MO, used to sing a song called “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
“Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth,
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father,
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.”
Yes, that was “back in the day” – 1970 or 1971.
We needed it then. We need it now.