It was primary school and there were bullies. Bullies exist everywhere in life but they seem to do their worst damage when kids are developing a sense of who they are in the world outside of the relative safety of their home. Bullies will look for anything that will belittle the other person. It may be because they are small or skinny, fat or wear glasses. It may be because their parents are nerdy or have the nerve to publically hug them goodbye. It may be because the child is slow due to a disability or not athletic due to their physique. It may be because the child isn’t cool or doesn’t dress in all the latest fashions. It may be because the child isn’t the “right” skin colour or religion. Stuff is stolen, names are called and kids are beaten up because of things that are often out of their control.
He was a happy kid who obeyed the rules and minded his own business.
Suddenly he wasn’t so happy. He never seemed to get in any trouble at school but something was changing. He was getting beaten up, called names and stuff was being stolen. Most of this was because he wasn’t the “right” colour. He sucked it up as best he could but often he was punched, tripped and verbally berated. On one occasion he was grabbed around the neck and lifted up in the air until he began to lose consciousness. On another occasion his head smashed against the ground leaving bumps that would take 6 weeks to heal.
The physical healing was much quicker than the mental healing.
His high school years were even more difficult. Although he had moved to a school where he wasn’t one of the few kids his colour, the damage had been done. He suffered the scars of racism and the feelings they caused of being not quite right because of something he had no control over, his skin colour. He confided in me a few weeks ago that he struggled so much in high school that he was offered a gun real cheap to deal with his problems. I was so shocked that I couldn’t even ask if it was meant to be used on himself or others at school. Then he said this, “Dad, I wasn’t black or gay so there was nothing in place to help me work through it (he was at an arts school so there was things in place to deal with homophobia). I make sure I don’t look at or treat black people any differently because of what happened to me even though they beat me up because I was white.”
It is the story I am not supposed to tell.
I have been told in the current climate that racism on white people takes away from the real cause, that telling stories of black on white racism is a way to deflect the real problem. You know in many cases that may be right! Often a story of black on white racism is told and it becomes the focal point overshadowing hundreds of years of racism. That in mind, I do not tell this story to try to deflect but rather to say my son reminded me of a lesson that I have been starting to forget. Don’t let the bullies change your view of others.
Many people who believe in equality are struggling with the radical bullies.
In certain circles it has become common place to insist that all white people are racists because they are white. It has become popular to link every white person to a slave owning past because they are white. It has become popular to use words like white supremacy to refer to various institutions. Satan is looking to make racism about black vs white rather than wrong vs right. As I hear calls for white free zones and attacks on interracial marriages because they water down the black race I think to myself it’s the same old same old. Before it was the KKK and other white supremacy groups that wanted black free zones and a pure white race, now I see it coming from the other side.
Radical bullies on either side cause the other side to think in stereotypes about the other side.
I have found myself slipping into the belief that black people think we are all racists bent on dominance and oppression and that the unsolicited bias (white privilege) that we have unknowingly benefited from is really a plot we are all in on. It has made me angry and even depressed. I have gone over my life trying to find the things that make me the racist that the bullies say I am and apart from the fact I am not perfect, I can’t get in touch with this white surpremist side I am told I have. I have struggled for weeks. I have hurt and felt things I have never felt before. The bullies made me feel like I didn’t belong. Then I think of what my son said, “I make sure I don’t look at or treat black people any differently because of what happened to me even though they beat me up because I was white.”
I will not let the bullies define me or define my relationship with people of other races.
We have a chance to reconcile but Satan wants us to fight. We have a chance to recognize that we are all created in the image of God but Satan wants us to focus on the pigment of our skin. I beg my fellow Christian brothers and sisters, don’t let the bullies win. Don’t let Satan win. I know it is hard when you hear the bullies say being white is a bad thing but remember other bullies said the reverse was true when talking about black people in the past.
The world can be reconciled to each other and God if we don’t listen to the bullies/Satan.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NIV)
Note: my other 2 sons were bullied at the same school because they were white. I say this not to prove a point but to let them know that I haven’t forgotten the pain they also went through.