What can I say that has not already been penned with ink to paper? Nothing. Racism, it seems, is just something we will have to live with until there is life no more on this earth. What an unfortunate reality. Life, as I look back, has always been somewhat blissful in regards to my interactions with other races. Growing up and even during my early school days, college era, and further into my short-lived career season, the fact is, that my dark tone has not had an impact on the way I have been treated. Not until lately.
Then and now I have never been intimidated if I were the only person that join a company of other people that were not of my tint. As I enter a room I am not looking at myself, so as far as I am concerned, we are all the same. This is how I've always viewed life. I love people, all people. It has never mattered to me what color a person's skin color has been. I love learning about difference cultures, races and backgrounds. I am not scared off by difference, but intrigue. My friends are made up of just about every race I am proud to say.
It is more than disappointing to announce that my adult experience has changed in the past 12 years. I have especially noticed indifference amongst Christians of a fairer hue. Many of my negative experiences have occurred in the Christian arena. I can remember a particular instance at a church in another state that we attended regularly. We would enter the lobby of the church, all 5 kids in tow, and although the Pastor would be in that same lobby, he would never greet us. Unbelievable! you might say. I could not understand it. And the Pastor no less. It was not as though we could not be seen. But I dismissed this slight oversight as there were many other members at that church that were genuinely friendly and loving. Perhaps he really did not see us. Perhaps he did not notice us in the sanctuary either...perhaps.
Another incident, which happens to be church-related as well, was a time I taught Sabbath School. I would arrive early to set-up the classroom. The teacher in the classroom next to mine also had arrived early for the same reason. Before getting to my room I would pass this other room and always greet the other teacher, only to be met with no response. For months, I greeted this person in the same friendly manner, only to receive the same dead silence. I couldn't understand. "Was I at church?" I would ask myself, or, "Maybe the other teacher did not hear me?" There was other times when I would be in the church lobby speaking with someone and this same individual, who was friends with the person I was speaking with, would come up to both of us, and smile, hug and greet the person I was speaking with. When I would try to get in a greeting to this person, again I was completely ignored, as if I did not exist. That happened several times as this individual had many friends in this church that I was also friends with. This snubbing occurred for a couple of years and then finally one day, out of the blue, this person said hello. I was shocked. Perhaps it took a while for this person to feel okay with my presence. I am not sure, but how dreadful to have experienced such coldness from a Christian brethren. We never became good friends, but it was nice that this individual acknowledge me at least once or twice in the 5+ years that we were members at this church.
Perhaps I should not assume this incident is related to racism though this person is not of my race, but what would you think? I have often given my brethren, especially Christian brethren the benefit of the doubt. But at some point it becomes obvious, especially when I am not liked and ignored for no apparent reason by members not of the African American race. This is not to say I have never been unliked or ignored by members of my own race for no apparent reason, but that's for another post.
Since moving to our current state, my deep mocha complexion has provoked in me a heightened sense of awareness; an awareness that has not before been known. I get strange looks when I go into stores. One Sabbath, I was approached by a gentleman at church who came right up to me and said, "You must be Mrs. H---." I looked at him with a friendly smile and agreed that, yes, I was she. I asked how he knew my identity? By the way, it just so happened that he too was housed in a mahogany shell. He informed me that he was told that a new African American family would soon be moving near the school. "Hmmm," I thought. Why would this African American be made aware that another African American family would be arriving? Why? Is that necessary? Would not we have met eventually without this brethren being forewarned?
I have had this uneasy feeling since arriving to our new town; a feeling of oddness. There has been an unsettling silence that speaks volumes. When I am smiled at, I now wonder its authenticity. I find that I am on alert, suspicious. Don't get my wrong, we have met some very genuine, sweet, darling people, but there has also been a sense that some may be uncomfortable with us being here.
Additionally, I realize that mistakes made by us of coffee complexion are more scrutinized than those of the milky pigment, and because of such fact, we as African Americans must strive at a level others will never know.
Joining a small town community comes with advantages and unfortunately, disadvantages. The advantages may be obvious, but the disadvantages have a heavier weight. In our case, the town in which we share residence is predominately Caucasian. Aside from a hand-full of students, I have not seen another almond-colored family close by which lends itself to an unspoken pressure; pressure to eradicate the stereotype.
In many ways racial indifference has advanced to a subtle tolerance. Unlike days of old, I can say that perhaps we have proven ourselves to amount to more than 'less than human.' And with the recent election of our past president, who fulfilled two terms no less, I would say we ought to be looked upon with even more favor, but not so.
For some reason the toxicity of superior thinking hinders the beauty of unity that the Bible speaks so distinctly of. Will we ever get there? All of us? I do pray that when the judgment is set and the record is sealed, that we who call ourselves Christians will here the words, "...he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." Revelation 22:11.
If we expect to meet our God in peace, we must eliminate all hate, insouciance, and disdain for those that look different than ourselves.