As much as I love technology, lately I've found myself longing for the days in which it didn't exist and I wouldn't know about another unarmed black man being killed or the loss of another life to mental illness or the death of more people to Ebola or the persecution of many people groups (including, but not limited to, Christians) in the Middle East.
But we need to know.
Let me step back for a moment, though, to share a different story, one from my small life that I think fits in the context of the bigger stories being discussed today.
Two weekends ago, a rainy Saturday morning found our family at Monkey Joe's. We had our Groupons printed and our socks on, and our party of eight was all set for bouncy house fun. As we pulled up, though, I felt my chest tighten as I noticed that everyone else in the place had much darker skin than I do.
I hate to admit this, but I thought, "Next time, we'll go to the one in Cary."
You know, the whiter suburb.
But we unloaded and filled out waivers lest my crazies ended up injured and tucked our shoes into cubbies and let loose. And as our time in that packed play place wore on, I was convicted.
As I chatted with the black mama sharing our lunch table, sharing words in between pages she read on her Kindle, I was convicted.
As I saw my children light up when they pointed out other little boys and girls who fros and twists and mohawks like three of our children were wearing, I was convicted.
I was convicted and ashamed as I realized the assumptions I had made, the ingrained attitudes I felt, and the judgments I passed about a group of people who mostly resembled three of my children more than me. As I shared with a friend in response to the events of Ferguson, Missouri,
"I thought I understood, but I didn't. Not until I became a mama of a black boy who will one day - God willing - grow up to be a black man. Stories of Trayvon and Michael Brown and John Crawford and others like them mean more to me now, and I'm ashamed that they used to mean less. I know many mothers battle anxiety about the future for their kids, but that's never been a temptation for me... until raising a black boy and having my eyes opened to so much of what that involves. Oh, my heart."The next time we go to Monkey Joe's - after all, we have at least 2 more trips of Groupons to use - it will be that location again. Next time, I will see the beauty in diversity and the blessing in differences. Next time, I will know better and be better because I was willing to let God convict me of an ugly part of myself where racism and prejudice dwell even though I'd like to say I'm better than that.
I don't think any of us are.
When I think about Ferguson, I can't help but think about the Ebola outbreak in parts of Africa. What does it say about us that few people here knew or cared about the deaths in Liberia until the virus was contracted by someone who, for many Americans, was raised like us and believes like us and looks like us and has the same passport as we do?
Does a white life matter more than a black one?
I've been following the outbreak for a few months because of a friend in the area, but Ebola didn't break into my news feed until a white Christian American got sick. I'm uncomfortable with that, because my God cares just as much for the sick Liberians.
God cares as much for my black son as He does for my white one,
my son from Africa as much as my son from America.
|photo of my boys by Rebecca Keller Photography|
And so do I.
On the days when I can hardly bear it all, I press on for them. And I write on for them too, even owning my own ugly places, in hopes of making the world - and myself - a better place for them.