I never think about being white.
I don’t really think about my race. I mean, I know when I fill out government paperwork that I choose “white,” but I don’t really think about it much besides that.
When you attend a school where the only African American kids are your six adopted siblings, the fact that you have white skin never really comes up unless you get sunburn.
But imagine you lived in a country where you or maybe your parents could remember when schools were segregated. Imagine you were almost hit by a car because someone was trying to prevent you from going to your newly integrated school – an experience a friend of mind had. Imagine knowing that the town you love used to be a “sundown town” where there were signs hanging up warning people with your skin color to get off the mountain or out of town by sundown. Imagine what it must be like to go to the courthouse to pay a parking ticket where you have to walk underneath the battle flag of the confederacy (you should read the cornerstone speech).
I can’t even begin to know what that’s like. Because I never think about being white.
This is Black History Month. A month to celebrate the accomplishments of men and women who are part of a race of people who were stolen from their homes and sold into slavery where they underwent inhumane conditions from the boats upon which they traveled the ocean to the harsh working conditions they found themselves in for generations to the rejection, prejudice, and segregation they dealt with for years after that (and continue to deal with).
Having a month dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of a race of people may seem odd to someone like me, someone who doesn’t ever think about their race since I’ve never been defined by it or faced discrimination because of it. But think about it like Sabbath, Passover, or the other feast days. They were times set aside to remember where Israel came from and what their future held.
Having a month to remember the history of our African American neighbors reminds us to be allies, not foes, and it enables us to show solidarity with those who still deal with racism in their lives.
Celebrating this month should also inspire us to know that wonderful accomplishments can come even in the face of adversity whether it is discrimination, racism, or maybe even sickness or financial problem. If these great men and women could accomplish so much despite how much the world was working against them, then we can follow in their footsteps!
While we would love to get to a point in the world where people no longer judge one another because of the color of their skin, it’s simply not how the world is right now, and since it isn’t we still have to have these conversations. We still have to work to educate others that all people, tongues, and nations come from God and all deserve to be loved equally. Depending on where you live, you may already be there, but some of us have a long ways to go.