Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Where's My Hoodie?

Our good friend Amber Carter wrote this blog and gave me permission to post it here.  I liked her insight and perspective on this very difficult and sad situation.

Here is  another blog that I enjoyed as well by Jen Hatmaker. She wrote a letter to Trevon's mom.  

 "I feel an overwhelming desire to take a picture of myself wearing a hoodie with my hands in my pockets and my back turned in passive aggressive support of Trayvon Martin's family.

This may come as a shock to you, but I have been white all my life, ghostly white - I don't even tan. I grew up in the white South and did not even interact with people that didn't look like me until college (unless you count the grocery store clerks that carried my bags to the car for me). I didn't know life any differently. And then I went to a 35,000 person college and saw every skin tone, every religion and every different way of thinking from my own. I had to do some real soul searching.

Then, God called me to the city and for the first five years to serve among mostly African Americans. During our four years in Dallas my office was in the city housing complex where we ministered. More than once a police car followed me to see what business I had in being there. Our apartment was quite literally 'across the tracks,' a noticeable racial divide. More days than not, Ryan was the only other white person I saw as I came and went from work and other daily activities like grocery shopping.

It never felt weird. It was my life. Until I had those moments. Those slips. Where a thought crossed my mind or I behaved in a way that was so natural to my upbringing, but so against my current way of thinking.

We ministered in Dallas to children, mostly elementary-aged. We searched and searched for curriculum for our weekly Bible Studies and found almost nothing. All the little kids in the pictures had blond hair. Jesus had blue eyes. The "take home" (application) was always some version of "obey your parents." What? It was so frustrating.

I remember so vividly being the first person to tell a group of eager-to-learn brown skinned little girls that Jesus looked more like their skin color than mine. The shock and joy in their eyes is burned into my memory.  It was so apparent that they had never considered that Jesus looked like them! What a joy to be the first to tell them! I hope it stuck with them.

I will also never forget one of those slips moments. Ryan and I were joining two other couples to celebrate someone's birthday - I don't remember whose birthday it was. We went to the local Chili's restaurant and were promptly escorted through the empty dining room and seated at the back next to the constantly-opening to-go door and across the aisle from another table of six or so. Our waiter was also in charge of all the to-go orders so he was painfully slow and inept (I have a serious thing about good service when I am paying so darn much for the food, but that's another blog). I remember being annoyed. But, what I now remember most is the light bulb moment probably a few weeks later when I put it all together. We were having dinner with two African American couples. We were seated across from a table of six African American diners. Seriously? Where we really treated with horrible service and forced to sit at the back of the empty restaurant because of skin color? My hands are shaking and my eyes are filling with tears as I even type this because it was a painful lesson for me. Should we have used our white privilege to demand a better table? Probably not. Am I ashamed even today that it took me weeks to put it all together? Sadly, yes.

So many times I have asked God why he chose to give me near translucent skin, but such a huge heart for the African American culture. He hasn't given me an answer and I suspect he never will. He doesn't owe it to me. My two beautiful boys had no chance but to get pale white skin from me and Ryan. But, I hope and pray that they will be forced to wrestle with all these things as they grow up in the city. As I teach them their ABCs and 123s, I want them to also learn from me that God loves us all...Christ came to save us all...Jesus himself was met with stares as he socialized with the "wrong" crowd. I hope that they love their friends that look like Trayvon just as much as they love their friends that look like them. I hope they jump in with both feet to follow Him!"

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