I can’t tell you how thankful I am that God nudged me to blog about racism last week, even though I felt completely unqualified (and still do and am). I’m so encouraged by the conversations that have been taking place and so inspired by my brothers and sisters in Christ of all colors.
I’ve been asking God what he wants from me when it comes to this discussion about race and the gospel and true reconciliation, and I sense him saying, “Listen.” As in, “how about you not do all the talking and writing yourself, but you take the time to listen? And gently convict others to listen too.” And wouldn’t you know it–Pastor Rich confirmed the whole “listen” thing with his message at church this morning.
Speaking of church, mine is awesome, and I’m really looking forward to some face-to-face conversations soon with my church people about how we can take real, serious steps toward breaking down walls and building each other up.
Still speaking of church, I met a new friend there today. Her name is Yalonda, and you might know her as the gifted author of the poem I shared on Friday. I got to hug her neck and meet her precious little boy. He is stunning and amazing and can hop up and down on one foot like nobody’s business. I can’t wait to get to know them both better.
Yalonda’s is a voice that I already feel like a better person for having listened to these past few days. And not just her poignant poem. A gentleman I don’t know commented on Friday’s post, and before I had the chance to respond to him, Yalonda already had. And her gracious, thoughtful, intelligent, insightful reply just about bowled me over. I wanted to hand her a microphone and pull her up on a stage and say, “Could you repeat all of that please?”
I feel like if each of us could just put our own preconceived notions aside for a minute and really, truly listen, we could learn so much.
And while I don’t have a microphone or a stage, I do have a blog. And I’m handing it over to Yalonda right now. It’s perfect timing, because this weekend was tough, and I’m low on brilliant words. I’m emotionally drained and licking battle wounds. Not from the blogging stuff (although that definitely takes it out of me), but from family stuff, namely Gabe’s recent struggle with anxiety. If you’re new here, I blogged about it in February, and Gabe shared an update on Saturday.
There’s more, but it’s too raw right now. And I’ve cried enough today.
So, here’s Yalonda, and I implore you to listen well and ask God what he has to say to you through her words.
First, what the gentleman said about my post:
I am truly sorry and my prayers are with Trayvon’s family for their comfort at this unimaginable time. Now, on to the race thing. Why did we not see our President, President Obama come on National TV and talk about the Chardon, OH shootings?? Two white guys, one black guy gunned down in cold blood by a white kid. However, one black kid gets shot and killed, the black community rises up in protest, and our black president feels he, the president of the united states of america, whom I have served proudly over the past 11 years in uniform takes to the airways to give his comments. Yes, I think there is a touch of racism in our beloved nation all the way to the top. Can we please get over this already and move on with the future working together as one people, one nation, under God?????????? I am so sick and tired of the hand outs, priviledges, everyone’s history month, except white history month, that would be considered racist of course. Get on with it already. The more we focus on the past, the further into the obiss we sink as a nation while the third would nations come together and concur. Grow up, become adults, act like adults, don’t expect anyone to hand you anything, work for what you want and give all you have into acheiving your goals and dreams without depending on your skin color to get you there. That is how you earn true respect from all and true satisfaction out of life. Again, my true most heart felt condulances to both the families of the Chardon, OH HS victim’s families and the parents relatives and friends of Travon. May God bless the USA and those who fear Him and seek to know Him for who He is, “OUR” creator. Oh yeah, btw, we are all related from way back.
And Yalonda’s reply:
Good morning – Thank you so much for serving this great country for 11 eleven years. I appreciate what you have given.
I just want you to know that President Obama did publicly address the Chardon School shootings. In addition, he called the principal of the school to personally express his condolences and thoughts. I also want you to know that he didn’t purposely take to the airwaves to address the Trayvon Martin shooting. He was actually making an announcement of his nominee for president of the World Bank and then a member of the media asked this off-topic question… the president was responding to the question.
I also want you to know that both are tragic, but these two situations are in no way alike in terms of the motives behind the shootings. Neither is more important than the other… children are dead.
It’s the motives behind the Trayvon Martin shooting that have black people, in particular, so outraged. Black people are outraged because this is a modern day lynching, and the perpetrator has been allowed to walk free. But, I’m not foolish enough to believe that everyone will feel outrage. Everyone’s heart strings are pulled by different things, and that’s fine.
Trust me when I say that I would like nothing more than to just “get over this already,” as you suggested, but my heart will not allow me to. In my walk to love mercy and to act justly, how can I? How can I “get over it” when my son is no safer than Trayvon Martin? This is not an isolated incident… it’s just the most recent…and it’s just that it’s so blatant and overt. How do we get over this and move into the future without addressing what’s happening now? How do we move forward and expect justice in the future without demanding justice now?
You mention “handouts” in your post and it seems like you’re talking about something else, other than the topic of the post. Surely, it’s not a “handout” to expect that a boy could walk home from a convenience store with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. It’s not a “handout” to expect reasonable safety. It’s not a “handout” to expect that he would not be shot down in the street. These are not privileges either… these are rights. You served our country to make sure we all have these rights, and I thank you again.
Would Black History Month be more palatable to you if there was a White History Month? I would contend that when I went to high school, White History Month was September through June because I didn’t learn about any people of color during those months, but I certainly learned about all the “forefathers” of our great country. Does that mean that people of color didn’t contribute to our fine nation… no, it just means that the only opportunity that my teachers took to talk about ONE of them was during Black History Month. Black History Month should have just been called Martin Luther King, Jr Month. My hope is that our education system has evolved since then. Like you, I yearn for a time that Black History Month is not necessary because children will be taught the true history of this nation in school. But until then, I guess we have to live with what we have.
I do agree with you though, people should work hard and earn respect, without depending on skin color to get there. But, we would be remiss if we didn’t address the problem here. There is in fact more than one starting line.
Regarding the shooting of this innocent child… if it had been my son, and his killer had been allowed to walk free, without being subjected to an arrest or a sobriety test, a full background check, or even a hard line of questioning… I would want the world to be outraged… I would not want your condolences, I would want your help to make some changes to this country that you spent 11 years serving.
I say these things respectfully and I am glad we live in a country where we can all have varying opinions. I just hope that mine are considered to be well thought out and fact based, laced with appropriate amounts of emotion. This is truly an emotional topic for many and I thank Marla for having the courage to talk about this.
Thank you, friend. I’ll be here tomorrow chatting about Chapter 4 in our Read-a-Long, but this conversation isn’t over. And I invite you to be a part of it in the days and weeks to come.
We need your voice.
And your ears.