I remember the first time I realized there was a difference in black people and white people. I was five years old.
I grew up in Los Angeles, California with my mom, and occasionally my biological father when he found it convenient to be around. My mother was a good woman. She was intelligent, and she was kind. She had been all around the world, and had met all kinds of people, but she never found it in her capabilities to judge someone else.
She had been the poorest of the poor at one time or another, and she had raised a child on her own without a penny to her name. She’d had insults thrown her way, and had to fight her way out of the gutter. She had tragedies befall her life, and had been victimized by a man of a different skin color than her own. Almost killed in fact.
She had risen from it all, gotten an education, and after serving her country she worked her tail off to make a descent, upstanding life for her daughter. And during it all she raised a child colorblind.
There was nothing wrong with my eyesight. What I mean is that she raised me to not see a difference in people who were in essence different from me. I knew that my best friend Tanisha had darker skin than me, but I don’t recall thinking much about it at all. I just knew we had lots of fun together, and I thought her older sister, with long-flowing, black braids, was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.
I don’t know how she did it, what she said to make me, a pasty white girl with even whiter hair never notice that my best friend was as black as night. I guess it’s more what she didn’t say. In fact she never said a word about how we were different, or how our families were different.
My mom’s shift got changed at work, and she couldn’t walk me and Tanisha to school anymore. That next Monday I met up with a girl and her mother who lived in our apartment complex to walk with them to school. When I asked about stopping by Tanisha’s apartment my new friend answered, “She can’t walk with us.”
“Why not?” I asked innocently enough.
And the little girl’s mom answered, “Cause she’s a nigger.” Then she started walking in the direction of the school like that was all the explanation that was needed.
I didn’t walk to school with them after that. I told my mother, and appalled she made other arrangements. She tried to perform damage control, and mop up the ugly, racist spill from my brain, but what was done was done.
I still walked to school with Tanisha, and she remained my very best friend, but from then on I knew we were different. Momma had said the word “black,” but I wondered about the “N” word I had heard. Momma told me to never say that word, but I couldn’t help but wonder why it existed, and often times when I looked at my friend I thought about it.
The world had infected me even though my mom tried to prevent it. I still loved my friend, but then I knew there were people who didn’t. And I wondered why.
I would imagine Satan is laughing it up right about now. He’s watching in amusement as God’s people break windows, steal things, and start fires. All in the name of equality.
He’s laughing at the irony of such a protest, actions that only serve to further divide the human race.
I watch the news, or I read the stories about what’s going on in Ferguson. I hear the angry slurs, and I watch the infection of injustice trickle out to the surrounding masses.
I see the news stories sensationalize every last word making certain to point out the major difference in the main players. Black. And. White.
Instead of seeing a young man killed, we see a young, black man murdered. Instead of seeing a police officer being the one who pulled the trigger, we see a white cop fired the deadly shot.
People came out of the woodwork like hungry vultures ready to feed on the indignation of others, and spread the seed of discontent. They cultivate the rage with terms like “racism and inequality,” and they point fingers at anyone who is different.
They are no better than that mother who called my best friend a “nigger.” They point out differences that could otherwise remain unsaid. And once it’s said it cannot be unsaid. Once the lies of division have pierced your ears they cannot be unheard. Innocence is lost, eyes become narrowed, and the little girl inside you questions, “so we’re different?”
I wish I knew the solution. I wish I could take every word away, and undo years upon years, upon years of ugliness, hatred, and racism. I wish I could put Jesus glasses on everyone so that we would only see brothers and sisters rather than color and geographical origination.
I wish I could convince people that two wrongs don’t make a right; that just because our history together is shaded that doesn’t mean we can’t now live together in the light. I wish strongholds could be broken, past hurts forgiven, and the indecency of it all forgotten.
I think God is able to break those chains, but we’re just too stubborn to let Him heal us. To let Him help us love one another like He intended. Instead we want to hold grudges and continue a Civil War.
For some reason we want to be different. We want to see in color, to see the differences in black and white. And even as we know in our hearts it’s completely ridiculous we hold on to the race card, and we throw it every chance we get. We’re all guilty of that.
We let the world get ahold of us and contaminate us, and it’s so very hard to let that mindset go. We dig in our heels, and we fight. We point fingers, we place blame, and we divide God’s people in the process. I can only imagine how much He grieves.
And the devil laughs like he has won.
We have to stop this nonsense. I don’t know the answer, but it seems to me that we all need to go back to kindergarten. Go back to that place where color was just a Crayola box, and that was it. We will never be a strong, united people capable of God’s best as long as we’re letting differences divide us.
Murder is murder, and wrong is wrong. Doing your job as a law officer is still doing your job. I don’t know if Darren Wilson wrongfully murdered Michael Brown. I don’t know if Mr. Brown instigated the incident with unlawful, violent behavior. And I don’t know if Mr. Wilson overreacted, and killed a young man. I don’t know because I wasn’t there.
I do know this. Every word I have heard about this case makes certain we know who was black and who was white. It makes certain we know the white man was in a position of authority, and the black man was the one left dead. It makes completely certain we know that! It points out the difference in race, and then it needles consistently until everyone breaks. It picks at past injustices like an infected scab, and it makes people bleed anew. Despicable that we allow ourselves to be puppets in this way.
A young man is dead. I don’t care if he’s black, purple, or technicolor. His family is grieving nonetheless. Whether the young man is black or white, at the end of the day they will dig a hole six feet deep. The grave transcends race.
Like I said before, I don’t know the answer. It’s certainly not found here. But maybe it’s a start. Maybe we can all start somewhere. Start back at the beginning and find that place where innocence knew no difference in mankind. That is where you’ll find God, and He can lead us from there.