The Truth About White Lives

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.”

Proverbs 4:7-8 English Standard Version

I wandered around my happy place Friday evening. I haven’t been to my happy place in several months due to Covid 19, so when I walked through the doors of Barnes and Nobel and that aroma of brewed coffee greeted me…

I heard music.

I wanted to open my arms and swirl around in the aisle like Maria did on the mountaintop in The Sound of Music, but I was wearing a mask and already having trouble breathing.

I meandered over to the Christian aisle to see what new books had come out. There, a boy around my son’s age looked at the Bibles. He glanced back at me. I thought it was because I had gotten too close. I took a step back to adhere to social distancing. A few minutes later…

“Ma’am, do you know anything about Bibles?” he said. “What is this type called that has the original text side by side with a normal Bible?’

“Oh, that’s a Parallel,” I said. “It’s set up so you can see the exact wording from the original text.”

“I want to find a Bible that doesn’t have man’s interpretation,” he said. “The real thing.”

“The New American Standard and the English Standard Version are considered good literal translations.”

We discussed study Bibles and those with pastor’s notes. He claimed his grandma’s Bible which he’d been reading had Jimmy Swaggort’s commentaries in it.

I laughed. “I don’t know much about Swaggort, but Tony Evans has a good commentary Bible.”

“I don’t know who he is. I’m new at this.”

Later, while checking out, I found him behind me.

“Did you decide on a Bible?” I said.

“Yeah, I decided to get the parallel one. I want to be sure. You know?”

He wanted to be sure.

I’ve been under scrutiny. I suppose you will be when you are a blog writer and put your life out there as much as I do. Several young people have criticized the phrase I posted in a blog post written in 2016 “I chose to stand on the rock of my salvation for all lives matter, no matter what the color.” To be honest, I didn’t even remember it was there, and I’ve since deleted it. I would in no way want for a person to read my post pointing them to my Heavenly Father, and be distracted by one phrase.

But I’ll be honest, it really stung that one line written in 2016 would delete my whole testimony against racism and warrant criticism as if I was a racist myself. Furthermore, the criticisms came from white people.

In 2016 the Black Lives Matter movement exploded on the scene in car fires and looting. According to God’s word we are not to participate in lawlessness. Their message seemed interlaced with hate, and I being married to a black man and raising four bi-racial children steered clear of it and instructed my kids to do the same.

Time has passed and hearts broke when George Floyd begged for air. All hearts.

We need to be seekers of truth. Find it. Hold onto it. Want some truth?

The truth is white lives have always mattered. We as whites have never had to feel as if we don’t measure up because of the color of our skin; and that’s exactly why it infuriates people of color when our response to their message is “all lives matter.” They don’t need our correction on this issue when we’ve never walked in their skin. Besides, they know all lives matter. In order to move towards healing it starts by at least acknowledging the lives that have been treated unfairly matter. We also need to acknowledge the horrific injustices that have been administered to them, and, if we’ve held any hate in our hearts towards anyone of any color, class, or creed to repent of it.

Another truth, we need to stop dissecting people–trying to find something wrong as if we are the racist police. That’s not loving–it’s pride. We could all use a bit of humbling these days.

Another thing, we need to stop allowing the terrible deeds of some bad weeds to set fire to the entire crop.

Not all cops are bad.

Not all white people are racists.

Not all black people hate white people.

And yes, all of us matter to God who created white, black, and everything in between in His image. Maybe if we see ourselves through His eyes we’d treat each other a lot kinder.

How’s that for truth?

I neglected to mention the young man I met Friday evening in my happy place was black. I knew in that moment God plopped this southern blonde right there helping a young black man in which Bible to buy. At the same hour other young people his age protested in the streets, he was on the hunt for truth. He was new at it, but he wanted to be sure he got his hands on it. He was willing to pay his hard-earned $50 for it. He stated that.

We could all learn from him.

Just to make you smile. We could all use a little humor these days too.

Shades of Skin

“Momma if we end up in a race war whose side are we on?” His large dark eyes peered up at me. Eyes inherited from his paternal grandfather. His brown skin a perfect blend of my pale and his father’s dark. A color, many will risk skin cancer to obtain.

I glanced at the television. As a mother of four bi-racial children, I shuddered at the scene. What do I tell my twelve-year-old son? Whose side do we take?

My white heritage is layered with historical accolades in the building of this great nation. Some of the names sprouted on our Carter/Turner family tree are planted in historical references and textbooks. I’m proud of that. They risked their lives for their religious freedom and later freedom from the British. There is also a dark side of my ancestral history, one in which I’m not proud of. My ancestors were wealthy slave owners. One of those slaves born on an ancestral plantation was Nat Turner, who led the Nat Turner rebellion.

Through the limbs of our family, this racist ideology slithered down like a poisonous snake and I was raised within the snag of prejudice.

After I married, my father and I co-wrote a story to share his overcoming this generational sin. In light of all that is breaking on the news, I thought it applicable to re-post here.

He Said:

I was raised in an era when children were taught to respect their elders, saying yes sir” and no ma’am” to every adult…every adult, except black adults. As a small boy, I once addressed a black lady with,yes ma’am” and was scolded by my elders. They instructed me never say that to a colored person.” Upon asking why, they answered, You just don’t.”

Everything was segregated then from the black and white drinking fountains, to the restaurants and schools. Blacks sitting in the back of the bus were the norm. An age when congregations understood the words, “love thy neighbor” to mean, love thy white neighbor.” Hate, bigotry, and prejudice abounded. Our hearts from youth were ingrained with this ideology.

Like so many people at that time, I too was prejudiced, so much so, I refused sleeping in the same motel with a black family. Looking back, I’m not proud of this chapter in my life, but this is the reality of who I was.

She Said:

I knew the line we weren’t to cross, like the train tracks running through our small town, splitting colored town” from white town.” The gulf not only ran through town, but hung heavily in our churches as well. A dark veil prevented those who loved God, from feeling God’s unconditional love for others.

            One Sunday, a dark-skinned Indian man and his white wife visited our church. Once the service was over my father greeted them, and I took notice. When it was time to leave I jumped into the back seat, and leaned in between my parents.

            Daddy, you said black people can’t marry white people,” I said.

            My mother glanced back at me. Honey, he’s not black he’s Indian.”

           What’s the difference, he’s dark skinned?”

            She started to answer, but my father interjected. It’s wrong for anyone to marry outside their race,” he said. It’s not God’s plan or He would have made everyone the same color.”

           But you were nice to them,” I said.

           Once they’re married,” he shrugged, they’re married.”

He Said:

My oldest daughter Tammy moved to Florida for a job opportunity. One night in November, over the phone, she explained she ate Thanksgiving dinner with a black family, invited by their son Jay. I blew my top.

            “Don’t you ever see him again!” I yelled. No coffees, no lunch breaks, no contact at all. I forbid it! This is for the best.”

Months went by. I heard nothing more about Jay.

 She Said:

I’m ashamed to admit, I was unkind to Jay upon meeting him. His first attempt to invite me to dinner gained rejection. I tried to push him away. Where I come from you don’t date outside your race, religion, or political affiliation, but when alone in a strange town you begin to see outside the bubble you’re born in.

 He Said:

Tammy flew home for a visit and we had a wonderful time together. When it was time for her to leave, I sadly watched her plane veer down the runway back to Florida. When I returned from the airport, my wife informed me she found a letter my daughter left behind. A heavy dread came over me, as I backed into my chair. I examined the envelop in my hand. A father has an intuition when it comes to his daughter. I knew what was in the letter.

 She Said:

I left my engagement announcement in a letter. I remember the smell of my father’s shirt that day, when he hugged me goodbye. I didn’t know if he would ever speak to me again. As my plane turned onto the runway, I looked back to see his silhouette waving through the window, and I cried.

 He Said:

Every bitter emotion filled the fibers of my mind and body. An older family member advised me to disown her…count her as dead. He went on to say, Have you seen mixed children? They have yellow eyes.” That criticism was the last thing I needed to hear. My heart was broken and filling with disappointment, shame, and anger. Maybe he could disown his daughter, but I could not! I loved her, and needed time to work things out. Many sleepless nights followed. I spoke with my pastor and friends to no avail. I was still in turmoil.

 She Said:

I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I started to have abdominal pains landing me in the hospital one night. I repented for living a lie, while wearing down the carpet with my pacing. I waited and waited for the phone to ring.

 He Said:

Not long after the letter I purchased new tires, and while waiting for their installation I sat in the lobby. There I saw Mr. Goodman, a black man I’ve known for years. I looked over at him and prayed, Lord, can you show me how to love this man?” There was no vision or bolt of lightening, but He did answer my prayer, and I can testify God went to work on me. He cleansed my heart and lifted a heavy weight from my mind. If I had heeded the advice of family, I’d have missed many good times and so many blessings.

 She Said:

I made one mistake…I warned Daddy. I told him Jay planned to officially ask for his blessing.

            “You mean today?” He said.

            “Yes, today.” I nodded for emphasis.

Daddy started avoiding, and Jay started pursuing. Three days later, an exasperated Jay trapped him during a football game. Reluctantly, he gave his blessing, and it was like the heavens opened and the angels sung. We were blessed!

The wedding plans began the next day. Jay picked the date, the venue, and reserved the hotel rooms. In less than three months we were to be married, before Daddy changed his mind.

At our wedding, Daddy stood and gave me away with the words, Her mother and I.” I looked back at them and whispered my thanks. We were one flesh, no matter what the color.

 He Said:

Tammy and Jay have been married for 18 years. As her father, there is a deep satisfaction in watching the happiness of my daughter. She’s blessed with a good husband, who treats her like a queen. I am also blessed with three beautiful grandsons and a new granddaughter whose dark eyes light up, when they see their Granddad and Nana. They shower us with hugs and kisses.

 She Said:

After the birth of my first son, my father came to see him. He held him in his arms by our pool. The sunlight shimmered through his light newborn hair.

            You know, I can’t tell which one of you he looks like,” he said. I think my grandson’s Italian.

            He’s a mixture of us all,” Jay said.

Four children later, I recognize God’s handiwork. I imagine once we exchanged our vows, God released a sigh in His heavens and said, It is good,” just as He does any union He orchestrates. Still, what amazes me most is God loved my father so much; He took one of his biggest fears and made it a blessing. God is good.

He Said:

There are some who say nothing has changed between the races. I say they are wrong. I have changed, and I choose to believe I am not the only one. I believe God has erased bigotry from the hearts of millions across this nation. When I look back to how far I have come, I am slapped by the irony that I, the great, great, grandson of a plantation owner, who owned 99 slaves, has four grandchildren from a bi-racial marriage. Hate crime laws, race legislation, or the right politician in office will never change a man’s heart. There is only one who can alter the heart of man. All we need to do is allow it, by practicing what my daughter teaches her children- to truly love is to love with a colorblind heart.

 

I thought about this article today while reading everyone’s posts on Facebook. Many of the posts revealed which side of the line the writer stands on. My thoughts also returned to the night the Ferguson riots blared on the television…

“Momma?” Colin said again, tugging on my sleeve. “Whose side do we take black or white?” I glanced across the room at my husband holding my little girl, the palest of my children, who prefers her Daddy to me. Each member of my family beautiful and distinct in the color God created them. I imagine the Master added a dab more brown on my son Christian, and a smudge more white on Nick.

I wrapped my arms around him. “We are on God’s side,” I said.

I am the blessed wife of a loving black man and the mother of four bi-racial children. I was raised in a racist home. May my life be a testimony that it does take innocent blood to cleanse this country. Our Lord Jesus at Calvary shed the only blood capable of cleaning our land and our hearts many years ago. I refuse to stand with any group spewing hate or ranting chants inciting violence. I stand firmly on the rock of my salvation.  Every life is precious no matter the color and each holds a unique purpose under heaven. Where do you stand?