As a newly-minted senior citizen of 55, I have a secret. Nelson Mandela’s death yesterday brought it to the forefront.
My secret is that I have long been ashamed of some blatantly racist things that my generation, and the one right before mine, did. Some of these things were done, or taught, in the church.
There is no excuse for these things. They must simply be offered up as the atrocities they were, with pleas for forgiveness from those who were wronged by them. Forgiveness for generational racism.
First of all, there was the way my home state of Michigan divided itself into black cities and white cities. In larger cities, where both races were present, there were quadrants of the city reserved for blacks and quadrants of the city reserved for whites. Never the twain shall meet.
And, if it seems possible to believe this, Michigan and other such racially segregated places managed to lecture the South for its brand of racism, between races that at least interacted, if not always perfectly so.
I guess it is easy to think you are not racist even while ignoring the existence of an entire race!
Then there was the way we stereotyped members of the black race. Young men were “angry.” Older men were “oversexed.”
The media were complicit in this, as was even the FBI during the travesty of following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. around, hoping to catch him entering a hotel room with a woman who was not his wife.
Oh, he did that. But the intent was to negate his message and his life’s work by proving that he was an adulterer. Meanwhile, in the White House, young JFK carried on affairs, even sharing one mistress with a gangster, as the press turned a blind eye. It was widely regarded as impolite to report on the extramarital dalliances of a sitting president of the United States.
A double standard maintained the stereotype of the “oversexed” black man while ignoring the antics of white leaders who did the same things some black leaders did.
It was a racist time for which there is no excuse.
Then there was the rotten theology. Some church leaders of the time taught that when Noah’s son Ham sinned against his father, he brought a curse on the black race and on the continent of Africa. A curse that would never end and for which atonement could not be made. Even Christ’s.
Oddly, these “theologians” never noticed that the curse was directed to Ham’s son, Canaan, and resulted in the command for the Israelites to war against the land of Canaan many generations later. That curse was utterly contained within the Old Testament. In fact, no Old Testament curse survived into the New Testament because the New Testament began with Christ redeeming the human race from every possible curse that it had accrued.
And then there was the presentation of our future state in heaven as a white bread sort of place where we all sit on clouds and strum harps for all eternity, all looking like clones of each other. White clones.
The Book of Revelation and other Scriptures teaching about heaven don’t teach that. They teach that the diversity of the human race, the wealth of the nations from history, will be present in eternity, too.
And that is very important because the implication in this bad teaching about heaven was that we would all be white there because . . . well, who wouldn’t want to be white? That was supposed to be the aspiration of every other race on earth–to become white.
Yes, we had some very racist theology going on in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
I won’t give the atheist gang a pass though–they drew their neanderthals and other supposed early versions of man with black skin. As though anyone could know what color of skin a skeleton had (and I realize the use of the word “skeleton” isn’t accurate either, when talking about neanderthals and supposed early versions of man).
There was much ignorance about race back in the early days of my life, but there was much willingness to believe these lies, too.
I made my first black friend at age 14. An incredibly brave girl who was an only child enrolled in our all white district just because . . . her parents had bought a home near mine. She became a fast friend of mine who is still in touch with me to this day.
Bathsheba Darlene Love, I repent for the collective stupidity and cruelty of my generation toward you and others of your race.
You loved and forgave and grew right alongside me.
From you I learned much about racial reconciliation.
Thank you! And thank You, Lord!!!