San Francisco 49ers v Carolina Panthers

How to Respond to Racial Unrest

I grew up thinking racism was dead, outside of a couple of backwards thinkers in the deep south somewhere. I mean, the Civil War ended slavery and the Civil Rights Movement ended racism, right?

If only.

The more I read history, I see how little we’ve really changed. Our laws may be different, but our hearts are still hard towards each other.

As a country, we have been in a heightened season of racial unrest for a while. There is so much sorrow, which ever way you examine the situation.

But our hearts. Our hearts are what I can’t stop talking about.

There are people who would walk old ladies across the street, who would shovel their neighbors sidewalk, who would buy a single mom some groceries, who would fundraise for disabled veterans. But when they see a struggle that is outside their own homogenous community, their words become harsh and ugly.

Guys. Calling someone a “thug” is name calling, not too far from the “N-word.” Calling people “animals” is pretty close to calling them “monkeys.” When we see a grieving family and our only comment about their loved one is “they got what they deserved,” there is a hardness in our heart. When we say, “Those people…” we’re reinforcing the very attitudes that kept segregation alive for so long.

In my own little social sphere, I find those expressions almost nonexistent in a few distinct groups:

  • People of Color (meaning anyone non-white).
  • Teachers and social workers who serve multi-ethnic communities.
  • People in interracial relationships.
  • Adoptive families, especially transracial ones.

Why? Because they either experience life as a non-white person or they love someone who experiences life as a non-white person.

When we love someone, we see things through their eyes. We have compassion for their struggle, even if we don’t understand it.

If one of my girl friends comes to me with a story about a guy that just dumped her, I don’t say, “You brought this on yourself,” or “I’m sure he didn’t mean it when he called you fat.” Nope. I’m all, “Let’s get a taser and go after him!” (more or less.)

When you love someone, you have their back. Love changes everything.

There are so many Black people that are hurting right now. They don’t live in Ferguson or New York or Baltimore. They aren’t on the streets protesting. They would never dream of setting things on fire. But they are afraid to live in America. Their hearts are broken for their community.

They are in our neighborhoods, at our workplaces. And when we spit out, “Just a bunch of thugs, got what they deserve,” their hearts break again. Because when we say, “those people,” it includes them too.

I don’t care how many Black people we claim to know. If we don’t love them enough to take the time to understand their perspective, we have no right to tell them how they should feel about events across our nation. If we don’t love them enough to grieve with them, we’re still missing it.

Let’s lay down our defensiveness about an opinion shaped by our own experiences. Let’s lay down our need to be right. Instead, let us choose love.


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