I’ve gone back and forth on writing this post, and I finally just decided to go for it. I am going to have to be vulnerable, but I think that these are things that need to be said. These thoughts have been on my heart and mind, and getting them written down helps me to process it all. It is my prayer that they might help you, too. As I have been praying about all of the recent events going on in our world (most within the past week), God has shown me that staying silent can’t be an option anymore. I am heartbroken seeing the hatred and division within our country. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but I do know that things have to change.
Growing up, my parents taught me to treat everyone with kindness. They taught me that if I truly love God, there can be no room in my heart for hate for anyone else (1 John 4:20). I have always believed that every person is here because God intended them to be, and that He loves every one of them. I believe that I will never look into the eyes of someone who Jesus does not love and did not die for. I value life. I have never considered anyone to be less than who God made them to be because they have more melanin in their skin than I do. As I have been reflecting on my own life, I am realizing that simply believing all of these things in my head isn’t enough – my actions must reflect what I believe.
I don’t ever remember intentionally treating someone differently because of the color of their skin. In high school, I often heard other white kids throw out racist comments to brown and black students. While I wasn’t one of the kids being blatantly hateful, I also was not one that stood up for my darker-skinned peers. I rationalized my inaction by saying that by not contributing to it, I was fighting racism. But I wasn’t fighting it – I was just observing it. This thought process has kind of gone with me into adulthood, and while I would always tell you how I believe that every single person’s life is valuable, I’m ashamed to admit that my actions might not have been a clear reflection of my beliefs. I am learning that inaction can sometimes be just as hurtful as partaking in the hateful behavior. Maybe your story is like mine. Maybe you have always thought that by not being the one who is blatantly racist, you were doing the right thing. I am learning that in order for me to make a difference in the world, the difference has to begin in my own heart. I have to be more aware of my surroundings. I cannot be passive. I cannot turn a blind eye when I see a darker-skinned person being treated differently.
I am so thankful that I had parents who taught me to value other people, regardless of their race or ethnicity, very early on in my life. It is my prayer that I can help my daughter to see the beauty in others. She has to know that God created us all and He loves us all. Let’s help our children to appreciate what someone else can bring to the table, especially when they look different than they do. May the world that our children live in in the future be one that is more loving, more compassionate, and more accepting. May future generations place more value in the worth of a brown or black person’s life. I pray that God would open our eyes, and help us to see others the way that He does.
To my brothers and sisters who have darker skin than I do: I just want to say that I am sorry. I am so sorry for the times when I have been oblivious to the oppression and struggles you encounter on a daily basis. I am sorry for staying silent when I should have spoken up. It has not been intentional by any means, but I realize now that I could and should have been doing so much more. I promise to do better. I promise to be more aware of how my actions are a reflection of how I value your life. I promise to speak up when I see injustice in the world. I pray that you will know how loved you are by your Creator, and that the rest of the world would understand that, too. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your life matters and your voice matters. Before you were even born, God knew you and had a plan for your life. You are an image-bearer of the Father. You are His child and He loves you. And, for what it’s worth, I love you too.
I’ll end with the lyrics to a song that I’m sure you all know. I sing this song often with my daughter and with other young children in my life. The words are simple, but they share a deeply profound message – today more than ever before.
Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white; They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.