Guys, can I shoot you straight today & chat about something I don't usually chat about?
Racism is alive and well in our country. It just goes by another name: racial bias.
This is a topic I’ve intentionally stayed silent on in light of hate-mail and threats that other interracial families have experienced from particular movements and hate groups. As a mother, I want to protect my son and daughters, but I think in order to protect and fight for their futures I cannot stay silent any longer.
Before I get started, I need you to know that this isn’t an angry rant. That is not my tone. This is a conversation from a white mother to a bunch of other white people. It’s me pleading with you to hear our stories, and then decide which side of the line you’re going to stand on.
Because make no mistake, at this point in our society there is no such thing as pleading neutrality on these issues. Silence is no longer an option, and sticking our heads in the sand saying that something doesn’t exist when people all around you are screaming that it does IS taking a stance.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” - MLK
So here I am, your friend, the little girl you watched grow up or maybe your classmate from college, and I’m here to plead with you.
Open your eyes. Injustice and racism are still very much so alive. It's just that in many of our white circles it is labeled differently.
You see there are plenty of folks who are less than thrilled about our family's make-up, but those people who give the hateful stares and say the ugly words are the people I'm the least concerned about. We take their hate and we label it as ugly. But it's the racists who don't know they're being racist that I'm most worried about. It's the people who get away with the subtleties who are just as dangerous because we take that racist seed and we don't call a spade a spade and a sin a sin. We let it simmer and then eventually it takes root and grows.
And just in case you think I'm crazy and making up all these feelings, here are actual words said to me by people who had NO CLUE they were being racist.
- When Jude was just a few weeks old, I had a woman tell me (while I was wearing my precious son) that she knew a solution to the blacks' problem. The only way we could fix them was by raising their babies for them. She then commended me for the good thing I was doing.
- “It was so great of you to adopt that colored boy. It's a such a shame. I see those kids on the street all the time and it's so good of you to save one.”
- I have had multiple people ask me if Jude’s birth mom was a (forgive my language… their words not mine) “crack-whore.”
- I had a lady from our church in North Carolina babysit the twins while we were in the adoption process. When she asked about our adoption she said it was so great that we were taking in an African American male despite their stigma because so many of them ended up (again forgive my language) criminals or gays. (Needless to say she didn’t babysit for us again).
- Watch out they're cute when they're little but when they get older they can get aggressive (in regards to black men).
- And just the other week, someone told one of my family members that he was proud to live in an all white community and that it wasn’t racist for him to say so. (I pleaded with my family to send the guy to my house and have him tell me to my face that our family moving into the community would be a disappointment, but the thing is, I know what his reply would be because I've heard it before. “Of course that doesn't apply to y'all. Your son is different, you know, because he’d be raised by, er, y’all" aka. white people).
These are all words that have been spoken over our family.
Sit with that for a minute and picture my beautiful son, not able to understand and yet he already has a culture making claims about what his skin color means.
Typically in white communities, a person isn't a racist unless they intend physical harm or display blatant forms of hate. But if our only measurement for labeling someone as a racist is if they use the “n-word” and burn crosses in yards, we’ve missed the mark. Although these are obvious examples, they aren't the only examples. Racial bias and prejudice don’t solely come in such hateful packages. Racism is not only seen in actions, but it is also displayed in a variety of beliefs and the outcome of these beliefs is equally dangerous as our actions.
What I'm trying to say is, you don't have to be a villain to be a racist.
I know a lot of fantastic humans who are racist. These people are church-going, tithe-giving, pro-family people. But here’s the truth about humanity: all of us are broken in need of a Savior and as a result really good people do bad things all the time.
Good people cheat, good people lie, good people have affairs, good people gossip, good people are selfish, and good people are racist because none of us are actually fully good.
As a Christian, our basic understanding of humanity is that no one is perfect but we have a God who redeems. Therefore there is no shame in standing up and saying, "I AM A SAUL, but God changed my heart and now I want to be a PAUL."
Yet instead of repentance, white people are defensive about our racially biased hearts and deny even the possibility of their existence. "I don't hate black people but [insert racist remark and label it as bias instead]"
Listen, you don't have to hate black people to have racism in your heart.
Perhaps it's the belief that black people and white people do things so differently that they really just shouldn’t mix. Or it's that uneasy feeling you got when a black family moved into your neighborhood. Or maybe it's the idea that black males are more dangerous/lazy than white males. Or maybe it’s not even a fully formed conclusion, but it’s just a hesitancy and natural distrust of people who look differently from you.
In white circles these types of racism usually go by a different name like racial bias, but as someone who has now listened, observed, and experienced it, I'm telling you it's all poison. Racist poison that kills.
Now, some people have said I'm a little sensitive to all this "racial bias" because I have a black son. Here is my response to that: You are 100% right, I am sensitive about it! I'm up in arms about it. But I am also ashamed that I wasn't more sensitive about it before I brought my beautiful baby home.
As you should be.
Because the reality that this past week we had to add another hashtag to the long list of black males murdered by police brutality shouldn't be something just mothers and fathers of black children mourn over. This grief shouldn't only be carried by our black brothers and sisters. It should be carried by all of us. And until we are one people united under the truth that all men are created equal and in the image of God, racism will still thrive and our children will suffer.
My children will suffer.
So you're right. I am sensitive to these issues, but you should be too because this isn't a personal problem; it's a moral one.
Racism is alive and well in white communities my friends. And until we learn to call it by its real name and repent of it, it will continue to grow. I know so many of you love me and you love my family. I am begging you, take a stand so that one day #JudeSalmon won't be a hashtag. When people in our families, churches, friend groups say or do something racist, don't just brush it off and give them the benefit of doubt. Call it by name; it's racist. And if they're believers, ask them to repent of their sin. Love them through it, but don't let them continue to live in it.
Don't let the seed of racism grow mutant, because mark my words, sin left in the dark will always grow something uglier than we could ever imagine. My guess is the friends and family of the police officer that shot and killed Jordan Edwards are shaking their heads in disbelief saying, "He's a good guy, he's not a racist!"
Tell that to the mother of Jordan Edwards.
Racial bias is racism, and it's just as deadly.
I share this not to stir the pot, but because I believe the way change will take place is if we pause for a moment and listen to each others' stories. The black community has been telling its story and I see many in the white community with their hands over their ears. Friends, remove your hands from your ears and ask God to give you eyes to see the injustice that our brothers and sisters have been experiencing.
May God help us love the things He loves, and hate the things He hates, and may we be a people who do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.