One of the best gigs I had as a freelance journalist was a weekly parenting column in the local paper. Mostly anecdotal, I shared funny stories, parenting hacks, and humbling experiences. Occasionally, however, I would touch on something serious.
A column I wrote in August 2014 was just that. Serious and hard and sad. As the Ferguson riots played out across our television screen, my oldest asked me some tough questions about race relations in this country.
I was raised by a single mother who came of age in the 1960s. She was a self-proclaimed hippie, and she marched for civil rights. She taught me that everyone should be viewed as equal, and my husband and I are raising our children to know the same thing. So, when my son asked me those hard questions, I wondered whether we’d stepped back in time.
I answered everything. I told him that racism is a major problem, maybe not in our community — which is a beautifully-woven, multi-cultural tapestry — but in other states and regions, racism was showing its teeth. Then I wrote about our conversation in my column. When it went to print it also appeared on the newspaper’s website. I shared a link to the piece on social media (it’s been archived, otherwise I would share the link here).
Later that day a contributor to a national television network that often features pundits and talking heads responded to my post by telling me I was adding to the unrest. I literally rubbed my eyes and reread the comment, sure that it would read differently. It didn’t.
I debated whether to respond. I had all manner of words ready to volley back at this person. It took everything I had not to explain how wrong they were, but in the end I decided it wasn’t worth it. This person thought that I was contributing to the tension because I pointed out the obvious — racism hasn’t been eradicated and in some cases, it defines entire communities.
But if every family in this country decided to raise their children to love everyone, racism would cease to exist.
In the end, I didn’t regret telling my son the truth.
It’s one of the hardest parts of parenting.
John and I want to raise kids who become world-changers and we can’t do that by covering up facts.
In light of that, in opposition to the horrible things playing out in this country…
Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:39)
Love one another. (John 13:34)
[Remember that] hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. (Proverbs 10:12)
Our children need to know that someone can’t be a Christ-follower and a racist at the same time. Hatred and bigotry go against everything Jesus represents.
[Remember that] whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. (1 John 4:20)
Our kids are watching and listening and taking their cues from us.
Note: A special thanks to Elizabeth Shafer for allowing me to use a picture of her sweet kids. To learn more about Elizabeth’s multi-cultural family, visit her blog, “Embracing and Thriving.”