I want to take a moment as a white man who has worked in black communities for the past 8 years to share some of my experiences both good and bad. Looking back 8 years ago I was naive, somewhat dumb, and had no idea what I was doing. What I did have was love, passion, and a heart to learn.
I was accused of not having a plan, I was labeled by a few as a rich white person, there was also this false narrative that I was paid by a church and that was the reason i spent time in the community was because It was my “job”. In other words, I was there because the neighborhood was my little “church project”. I didn’t even take time to listen to the chatter rather I kept showing up
“Any stereotype can be defeated with patience, and humility. Just keep showing up, come close, and listen. Simply let God work, He can handle, what we can’t.”
Over the years I’ve found that the key to bridging racial divides, socioeconomic differences, and blatant racism, is to COME CLOSE. When you come close enough to truly get to know people, you’ll see that we are not that different. We are all people, made in the image of God, worthy of life, and deserving of a great story.
I tell the kids often, “I haven’t changed you, You have changed me.” Healthy relationships are give and take, it’s not when you do all the giving, and it’s definitely not when you do all the taking. I can honestly say that the community blesses me, more than I bless the community. Why do I say that? Don’t think you are doing someone ELSE a favor when you come close to them, you are doing yourself a favor. I’ve had to learn that my job is not to save anyone, I often need “saving” myself. My job is to simply love, listen, and try to create change WITH people, not for them.
My son is African American, we are blessed and honored to be his parents. He was playing with one of our church members daughter, who happens to be 2 and happens to be white. They don’t know color, they haven’t been introduced to false media, hell, they don’t even care what brand of clothes they wear. But the smiles and laughter that took place, the innocence that existed, was nothing short of heavenly. Maybe that is why Jesus says, “let the little children come to me, for the kingdom of God is made up of these.” (Matt 19 for reference).
I’m going to close out with a prayer, for all of us.
Father may we return to being your kids, and seeing each other as sacred, perfectly made in your image. Regardless of skin color, race, or how much money we have in the bank, we are to love each other above all. Give us our innocence back Father, give us back our love for humanity, and particularly for those who look and live different than we do. Let your Kingdom come Jesus. Amen.