My first experience with racism was when I was 6 years old.
This is about to be a real life situation.
Strap on your seat belts, people!
Let Me Fill You In
I always knew racism was something I would experience in my life. I don’t know if it’s a “growing up Black” thing when you just KNOW there will come a day when someone will point out how different you are in a manner of hate or if it’s a universal thing for everyone who is considered even a smidgen different in their society. But it’s just something I knew. My mom made sure I knew the history of Black people in America at a young age. Roots was one of my favorite movies growing up ((that’s partially why it’s a sub-name for my Monzis)). There’s a scene where Kizzy and her husband jumped the broom and I watched it ALL.THE.TIME. I watched that and The Five Heartbeats ((which taught a whole bunch of other life lessons…and Leon)).
If you don’t know what jumping the broom is… don’t be alarmed. See here and below.
If you don’t know what The Five Heartbeats is… be alarmed. I’m sad for you.
Your life is not complete. Stop reading this and go find a copy NOW!
Now, if Roots didn’t teach me about racism… then reading the first couple of chapters of The Autobiography of Malcolm X did. I didn’t read it when I was 6 but I definitely read it when I was waaayyy too young and I was terrified the KKK was going to show up in the hood in my upstate, NY backyard.
Seriously, dude. Terrified.
Either way, through books, movies, documentaries and a lot of first hand testimony from my grandmothers, I was a very serious child AND I knew racism was a very serious thing. I knew it was coming. It was just a matter of WHEN.
And WHEN came when I was 6.
I was at a, you guessed it, white friends house and we were running around like crazies. We were 6. That’s what we did. For some reason, I think her older brother was mad that we weren’t getting in trouble or something. I honestly don’t know. But then BAM. It happened. He said something about my blackness under his breath.
Now, I didn’t hear it. I, apparently, wasn’t ready. But my friend DID. She was 6 year old APPALLED. Needless to say, she told her mom and dad RIGHT THEN. Homeboy got a stern “talking to” and once they were done, they called me in. This was SUPER AWKWARD. 1. because I’m 6. 2. This is literally the first time I’ve had to deal with this. Why are you doing this to me? 3. What does one say to another person who just spit some hate out at you?! Why is this happening?!
As I made my way to their kitchen, I remembered all the movies I’d seen. I remembered all the stories I heard. I remembered Chicken George and I remembered Eddie Kane Jr. I realized this was my first moment with racism and it was going to be burned in my memory forever. I was a deep 6 year old. What can I say?
I went to the kitchen with my friend and I listened to her brother’s apology. A lot of life lessons happened in this moment as I see it in retrospect. Firstly, I had to accept myself for who God created me to be. I was Black. I couldn’t change that and shouldn’t have wanted to. Being black is awesome. I’m thankful my mom instilled that in me so I would never be ashamed of my skin color. If someone had a problem with who I was, I needed to speak up to get to the truth of the matter. Which was my next lesson: Speak up and speak truth. I hated the fact that I was put in this situation. If it was up to me, I would have pretended nothing happened. Classic Monz. But, because it was in my face and I was stuck there… I had to say words. I can’t remember what exactly was said. But I did say something. In whatever I did say… I forgave. This was my 3rd lesson. It wasn’t hard to forgive because I didn’t hear what he had to say in the first place and when you’re 6… you just forgive everybody because you love everyone. Love was my last lesson. While I didn’t know it, I had to choose to love everyone through it all. Up to this point, I hadn’t been over their house for very long and I wasn’t about to go home. I had a couple hours to go and love was the only thing that wouldn’t make dinner super awkies.
And that was it. We talked. We hugged. Racism in the world was over. We all got to hop over rainbows and eat skittles. Yay.
The Big, Fat Elephant.
I don’t know where to go from here. Even thinking back to that day still makes me LOL and say, “what just happened?!” The big, fat elephant in the room called RACISM still exists, lest we forget and it still leads me to ask… ummm… WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!
We can’t deny that our society is built on inequality. Literally. BUILT. But when I hear the stories of police brutality, church shootings, racially motivated attacks, etc… I can’t help but think “Dude… can’t something let up for one second?!”
I’ve never experienced racism in bold ways as my grandparents or great grandparents did. But I think I still have that innate fear of what could happen just because I’m Black. What happens if I get pulled over? Where do my hands go? What am I allowed to say? Will I get pulled out the car, slammed to the ground, thrown in a jail cell and “commit suicide” while in custody?
What about my future kids? It’s already bad enough they’ll have this weirdo as a mother! What about my future son? Will I have to teach him to dress a certain way as to not look suspicious? Or will he always be suspicious looking because of his skin color? Will he be allowed to walk down the street with his hands in his pockets without someone thinking he has a gun? God forbid he has a BB gun! Would I even be allowed to buy him a Super Soaker without him getting shot to death?
You may think I’m being dramatic but this is the world we live in. It’s not fair that people of color should have to live in a state of anxiety. It’s not fair that a mother has to fear her child not coming home simply because he or she is black. It’s not fair that a 12 year old black kid gets shot to death for playing with his BB gun in an empty park. And it’s certainly not fair for half the country to try to justify WHY IT WAS OKAY.
I’m sorry… A 12 YEAR OLD BOY DIED.
When is that EVER okay?
I’m not naive. I know racism was here before America and will be here long after America. I know racism isn’t limited to Black and White. But as a Black person… it still sucks. Like, Black people can’t even get a hashtag:blacklivesmatter without someone raining on the parade saying “WAIT A MINUTE. FORGET ABOUT BLACK LIVES. ALL LIVES MATTER. AMIRIGHT?!
Then There’s This.
But, in my frustrations… I try to seek God. I’m not saying I always do and that’s something I need to work on. It’s hard, though. Sometimes I can’t help but think
THOSE ARE MY PEOPLE THAT ARE BEING TREATED UNFAIRLY.
WHY DO I HAVE TO TURN THE OTHER CHEEK?!
But when I wanna be Radio Raheem from Do the Right Thing I have to remember a few things:
1. It doesn’t matter what color I am. I belong to God FIRST. I am a Christ follower above all else and my identity in Christ needs to dictate my behavior in all situations.
2. Black people are God’s people, not solely mine. All people are God’s people. Not solely yours. #alllivesmatter to God. Yes.
and 3. God sees. He understands and He’s frustrated too.
He’s not just upset with the treatment of Blacks in America, but with the human condition in how we ALL treat each other. We suck. We hold prejudices over one another as naturally as we breathe. I mean… if we wanna talk about injustice, the Jewish people are GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE. The Jewish community has gotten the worst treatment of anybody in the world! God sees. God delivers the oppressed because He sympathizes. The toxic way in which we relate to one another isn’t what God wanted. This isn’t how he created His people. He wants to save us from it.
Let’s be new. Let’s be 6 again.
When God reminds me of His frustration with sin and what it has done to His mankind, I remember how little, 6 year old me handled my first racial problems and I’m challenged. I’m challenged to be who I am, not just as a black woman but be who I am in Christ, to speak up and speak truth, to forgive and to love through it all. Residents of the Kingdom of Heaven practice these things and that is where my home is. When I’m ready to give into my anger at discrimination and unfair treatment of my fellow Black people in a negative way, I need to remember that I’m no longer a member of this world.
When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I became a new being who is a part of a holy nation and a royal priesthood. Does this mean I ignore inequality?! Do I just stand by and let injustice happen with a big smile on my face while I wait for Jesus to come back? By no means!**
It’s quite the opposite actually. I CAN’T ignore inequality now. I CAN’T sit by and just let things happen. I’ve been enabled by the Holy Spirit to effectively change the world by allowing God to use me… one small act at a time. My new identity in Christ pushes me to find biblical solutions to the problems of this world. It guides me how to love even as hate permeates my society. It influences how I handle intolerance and inequality in a GODLY way. My identity in Christ transforms me to transform others. I am called to be a light in this dark world and THIS is what God intended for all of us to be.
Nevertheless, every decision I make can be a Love choice or a Hate reaction. And how dare I allow the actions of others, racially motivated or not, steal my choice of love?! And to think… I got all this from my experience as a child.
6 year-olds are the wisest people on the planet. Pay more mind to them. #6yearoldmindsmatter
Until next time,
And calling to him a child,
he put him in the midst of them and said,
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18: 2-4
**By no means?! How Paul of me LOL