“A child is black. A child is white. Together they grow to see the light, to see the light…” (1972) Black & White – Recorded by: Three Dog Night. Composers: David I. Arkin, Earl Robinson.
Appreciation note: A quick thank you to the very kind, Alicia from the blog, For His Purpose for nominating my blog for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I am greatly shocked and humbled. I do enjoy your everyday camera angles of life with the filter of truths.
This will not be a political post. This will not be a ranting post concerning those who play at politics, or the swift blinding blame of another. This will lack the spewing of hatred and emotional blathering of negativity currently blowing across the media. If that’s what feeds you, look elsewhere. However, if you are open-minded, wanting to hop off the meat wagon, serving up all kinds of dangerous rhetoric currently being wielded like a Gladius sword, you are welcome to read below.
Billy Boyd was my best friend in 7th grade. In those times that was our first year at Dillingham Jr. High School, before “middle school” was introduced. We lived in Sherman, Tx where the west side of town was mainly made up of white population. There was also the east side where the African American community settled, or was made to settle in post-Civil War days. Dillingham Jr. High was situated close to the border of the east and west sides of the medium market town. We met on our first day of the new school year.
When we left our elementary schools to enter 7th grade, it was a cultural shock for all of the student body. Obviously my elementary school consisted of mostly white kids. At Dillingham the heavy black and white mix was a first for all of us. Billy was African American from the east side of the tracks. He was my first black school friend ever. At the time I really thought nothing about it. In fact, I thought it was cool to have a black friend who was my age.
What I didn’t expect, nor every experienced before, was racial name-calling, slurs, racial riots on campus, gang violence, and violent ambushes. (Forgive me for giving too much info here, but I must write it.) As a white kid relieving himself at the urinal, I was kicked in the back from time to time. Once, I was slammed in the back of my head with a football helmet while standing there facing the wall. This was the environment I was introduced to. Billy didn’t have anything to do with the vicious tagging of white kids. I was on the sharp end of the above racial abuses in a big way simply because I was a white kid from the west side. There were attacks I received in the hallways, between buildings, after football practice, and after school on my way across campus to the bike rack. Some of these were 15 and 16 years old students who were still repeating 7th or 8th grades. I received threats concerning my dog and my mom. In that school year, I learned how to box and street fight the hard way. My uncle taught me how to box, and another friend trained me in Aikido that same year. Through it all, Billy and I remained friends. You might say we were the odd couple. After the school year slowly dropped me into the summer break, my mom relocated out of town, and just in time. Only God knows what might have been if I had spent another year in racial turmoil. However, the hatred and bigotry had a profound influence on me. But, I would experience it again.
When I was a toddler, 98 years after slavery ended in the U.S., I met my first African American. (I have written about him before, but it’s been a couple of years.) While visiting my grandparents in Greenville, Tx, every-other Saturday they had their lawn work done by an elderly black man named Mr. Amos. To this day I don’t know if that was a surname or his first name. No doubt he was the son of slaves, living in the far east side of Greenville in a sector notable for the African American neighborhood. I recall there being a side street which served as the border between whites and blacks, as it was set-up by the local government leaders in the late 1800’s.
From my toddler days, all the way to 11 years old or so, I LOVED old Mr. Amos. I saw him as an uncle from another grandmother. The neighborhood in those days would remind you of the street scenes from the movie, To Kill A Mockingbird. He would drag his lawn mower down the street cutting grass and hedges for a few dollars. To see him was like imagining Mr. Bojangles in various ways. He was ragged, skinny, and toughened by the years. His very dark skin was weathered and rough from a lifetime of working in the Texas sun, like leather from an old baseball glove. He always had an old rag, or bandanna hanging out his back pants pocket, along with old worn-out hard-soled leather lace-up shoes. The elderly man always did a wonderful job on the lawn and hedges. He had the talent. Whenever I was there, I would watch him out my grandparent’s front window as he worked his fingers to the bone with pride. I never saw anyone sweat as much as he did. When he finished the front lawn he began to pull his mower up the driveway toward the backyard. From the time I was 3, my grandmother would take an ice cold, frosted bottle of Dr. Pepper out of the fridge, pop open the cap with the bottle opener, which hung on her kitchen wall, hand it to me and say, “Alan, you go give this to poor Mr. Amos.” Wrapped around it was the money he earned. (They were very liberal with the payment.) I would grin from ear to ear as I ran outside before he reached the back. There in my Buster Browns I proudly said in my Mickey Mouse voice, “Here ya go, Mr. Amos!” No matter how often our encounters, he always acted surprised as he shook my hand and replied with his gruff voice, “Well, what’s this here? (chuckle) Why…thank ya, son!” When in my earlier age, I would look at the palm of my hand to see if the black color rubbed off his sweating hand. I kid you not, he never took his mouth off the bottle until it was turned upside-down and empty, without taking a breath. There’s no way I could do that. I would watch him drink in shear amazement. Handing the empty bottle back to me, he would exhale with a huge drawn-out gasp, like a swimmer coming up for air and say, “That’s my boy!” I always waited to hear him say those words. It made my day. He didn’t know it but just saying that to this fatherless lad made me feel warm inside. With his statement of gratitude, I ran back in to tell my grandmother once again, how he called me “son” and what’s more, I was “his boy”. I honored and respected him. Through the years of youth, I wondered why he always looked so poor.
I’m not certain what year it was, but I will say I was 13 (1973) when hatred came calling.
Mr. Amos was in my grandparent’s yard, doing his job one Saturday, when he was suddenly interrupted by his son and daughter-in-law who had pulled up in the driveway. The man was angry with his father for mowing the lawns of “Honkies”. (It’s a name I was familiar with from school. I didn’t believe Mr. Amos thought I was one of those.) Mr. Amos protested saying he was doing his purpose in that stage of his life. The voices got louder as they argued in the side yard. I pressed my ear to the nearest window to hear more clearly what was being said. The son of Mr. Amos spewed about how shameful it was to be “workin’ for the white man” and how embarrassed he was to see him on our lawn in the “white part of town”. My granddad came out to see what the issue was. After he was told, my granddad gently explained to Mr. Amos that it was okay if he needed to go and do what he thought was right. Sheepishly looking down at his tired scuffed shoes, Mr. Amos agreed he should load-up and go with his son. Hearing it my heart broke. My granddad paid him in full, even though the job wasn’t completed, then they drove away. I was highly disturbed. Tears rolled down my freckled cheeks at what I had witnessed. That was the last time I saw Mr. Amos after knowing him through 9-10 years of my childhood.
I had a friend like Billy, as well as a man of grit and heart like Mr. Amos for one reason. Early on my mom had coded within me, from the days of Mr. Amos, to love all people, regardless of their skin hues. As a little one, she read the words of Jesus to me at bedtime where He taught what she preached to me. What she didn’t teach at the time was the perspectives and inward struggles some possess, like the son of Mr. Amos.
Still, I came away from my experiences at Dillingham with a chip on my shoulder, combined with an unjustified angst against black people. In fact, the realities left me unwilling to trust African Americans for many years throughout much of the 1970’s until I got the chance to work and worship alongside African Americans from 1979 and onward.
In these days where racial slurs, alongside accusations of racism, are being tossed around like confetti, there’s a warning for us all. When young men soak up vile, filthy hatred from certain websites, or chat rooms brainwashing them to the point of mass murdering another race due to their ethnicity alone, we should take note. Words are like bullets. Enough of them, combined with a deadly spin, will and do rip open the hearts of our youth. Good parenting is so vital. Compassionate parenting is so vital. Informative parenting is so vital. So often these word-projectiles reverberate through the rooms of the home for little ears to plant in the fertile soil of their souls. Each and every community and culture should surgically remove attitudes of hate-filled, damning speech about our neighbors. If not, the next generation will see domestic death, domestic destruction and possibly war. There is a desensitizing which is slow, like marinating a pork loin. Sleeping with the pigs will make you muddy. And oh, how dark that mud can be.
If you dare, journey with me for a moment on the following hypothetical.
If one leans toward Darwinism, and sees another race as beneath their own DNA, then one must ask how it got to such a point. If we, collectively, all derived from an ancient amoeba, which washed up on a beach in ions past, then how can one defend a racial ideology? Maybe the ancient amoeba community rioted against other amoeba of a different thickness of cell wall. Then again, can an amoeba possess hate? Unfortunately, hate is branded in humankind exclusively. There’s a reason for that. Follow me on this.
As we continue to search for the “Missing Link” (still missing), there’s a newer, more popular theory.
If one leans toward the newer idea that humanity was placed here by ancient aliens from another planet, there’s even a bigger leap to make. I suppose it’s plausible ancient aliens also suffered from racism, implanting that curse on the earth as we were left here to populate the world. It would also seem plausible that such an advance interstellar civilization would’ve been cautious to populate the earth with beings like themselves, assuring racism wouldn’t be introduced. If the theory is accurate, then wouldn’t it make sense they would sprout beings which reflected a visual likeness? If so, why do have racial issues at all?
If you come from a biblical world view, as I do, then how can I ever hold to a twisted view of racial hatred? Since I am a creationist, I read and study the account where we were all created in the image of God, a likeness of the Divine. Therefore, how could I ever look at a black, brown, yellow, or red man or woman crying, “Moron!”, “Mistake!” “Mutant” or “Monstrosity!” Racism dictates that you have cheap blood and I do not. But, I’ll take your kidney, or a transfusion if I need one. Cheap? Really? For me, scripture reveals we all came from a set of flesh and blood ancient parents who had a multitude of offspring, and so on. Genesis has the genealogy listed covering about a two thousand year span complete with names, nations and seasons of geology. Even DNA experts have found the evidence which mirrors this view. Within the last few years DNA studies have shown we come from the same part of the world with ancestry funneling into a clan going back to the beginnings of life itself, matching the Genesis timeline. So, why do we, or why should we have this scent of racism?
Let’s be super honest here. I like to call balls and strikes as I see them.
Racism, at its core, is the belief in a lie. Yep, we’ve been snookered.
“…Mmm, no no
Lyin’ to the races
Help me, come on, come on
Somebody, help me now (I’ll take you there)…” (1972) “I’ll Take You There” by: The Staple Singers
Moreover, racism is an ideology which dictates thoughts of I, me and myself am to reign over another due to my skin pigmentation. The lie woos one to beliefs like; if one is darker, or lighter skinned than I, then that person is to be subordinate to me, simply due to color. It even can get down to the shape of a skull, or the nose. Racism methodically massages the mind and heart of the pre-white supremacist, for example, who will claim God made a mistake by creating black, brown, yellow, and red skin. Unfortunately, even shades of skin tones are targets of racial darts. In addition, let’s not forget the racism within the color spectrum itself. English vs Celts, Anglo Gentiles vs Jews, African tribes vs other African tribes, the list goes on. Furthermore, it revels in the false idea which says a particular race was created to be supreme over all peoples, nations, societies and cultures. If one hears it enough, studies it enough, sniffs the belly of the dragon enough, the ideology is perceived as authentic. Just as evil thoughts grow and widen, hatred begins to fester like Multiple Myeloma which eats away at the bones. Racism eats away at the very soul of a person.
Are you still with me? Can I go a step further?
Let’s say you are one who believes in the afterlife. Maybe it’s a belief that the spirit, once separated from its body, roams the earth as a ghostly individual, for whatever purpose. If you were a racist in the flesh, how do you exercise racism in the spirit world? When there’s a failure to control the body in life, how then do we expect to control and navigate our spirits? Interesting thought. Are we suddenly stronger and wiser in spirit than we were when we had flesh? After death the skin, once proudly admired as a trophy in life, grows pale and decays, falling away from the skeleton, which is the same color as all skeletons. So now, in spirit form, how do you rant and rave over other spirits who have no skin color? In spirit form, racism is also dead. Suddenly, racist views are no longer so important. In the end, the 79 year old racist can look back on his/her earthly life and will see the damning foolishness of a faulty ideology.
Let’s say you have a biblical perspective of the afterlife. In the place described so well in scripture as heaven, there are a number of problems if racism is to continue. First, God says haters (which includes racist users) will not see the kingdom of heaven. Secondly, in this present age, there is the spiritual form left after the body fails. How, as an eternal racist, do you push back on another spirit residing in God’s Kingdom? Thirdly, the ancient text is clear on the following. There will come a time in eternity when the old earthly body will be recreated to reunite with the spirit in which it once belonged, much like the resurrection of Jesus. God does the recreation at His sovereign will. Colors or not, He will do what He plans. Whatever skin color, if any at all, is resurrected in God’s timeline. At that point, how could hatred of it exist? Fourthly, in heaven there is no spirit who will submit to another based on color of robe, earthly ethnicity, or thought. Jesus Himself said there’s only One Who reigns in heaven. All is made new in the afterlife, if with God. In Paul’s writings, he mentions that “in Christ” there is no difference in “Jew or Gentile”, “slave or free”, “male or female”, etc. THAT is God’s view of the color spectrum of the souls He created and saw it to be good. Racism is NOT eternal. What does that tell us about the perceived value and validation of racial disharmony in life today?
Racism will always be with us. The seed is there in this imperfect world. It was introduced by God’s adversary early in human history to distort the mind’s view of every created race. It is the management of it which must be priority. If the lion is not tamed, it will eat the foolish ringmaster.
The shooter in El Paso, Texas believed a racial lie. In his manifesto he wrote of multiple issues which pushed him over the edge like, plastic in the oceans, immigration flow, economics, eco-system, etc. But, in the end, his frustrations were decidedly poured out over helpless Hispanics with intention. The shooter in Dayton, OH and the shooter at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California were driven by hate, even though it appears not to be racially motivated. As a result, many were brutally murdered and maimed. It’s a seeded lie laced by the enemy of the human brotherhood of soul and spirit. Police in Gilroy reported the shooter there wore a clown mask. Appropriate, don’t you think?
Please accept this warning. Those who ricochet darts coming from the mouths of haters, is a very dangerous thing. Wars have been launched for far less. Unfortunately many like the shooters of El Paso, Dayton, and Gilroy are weak-minded, easily influenced, or simply mentally ill. They are like a weed bending to a dark wind from whichever direction. The result is, “I AM DOMINATE!” For some, all it will take is a spewing of hate-filled venom to cause the voices to ring violence in their minds. Once it takes hold, it is like the gravity of opium to the offender. If it’s not an assault rifle, it will be a bomb, a poison, a chemical, a blade, a flip of a rail switch, a van, a bus, a truck, a water bottle full of gasoline, etc.
Love, compassion, and understanding will always been the answer. In fact, love is the basis found in fuel for the race.
“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill. – Jesus – Matthew 5:21-22 (MSG Version)