Living in the deep south
of the United States
, one gets used to the
s about race. Admittedly, many of my brethren, both rural
and non-rural, are a little slow in getting their minds around the
fact that the amount of melanin
in your skin
has about as much to
do with your worth as a human being
as the amount of money in your
bank account does. But many of us in the South have gotten it straight
and are a little tired of being lumped into the former group, especially
by well-meaning but misinformed folks from other places in the U.S. and
around the world.
My favorite example of this happened this summer when one of my students
from church spent her summer in another city as a missionary. She and
a group of other students spent their time helping to lead that most
famous of all Southern Baptist summer activities, vacation bible school.
This involves groups of adults teaching children bible stories as well
as doing crafts, playing games, and other assorted activities. Many
of the smaller churches are unable to do this without help, so the
students volunteered their time to lend a hand.
One of the girls that came to help was from Michigan and it was the first
time that she had ever been in the South. She had very definite ideas
about race and the inequality that had occurred in the past and was
going to make sure that she got the locals straightened out while she
was south of the Mason-Dixon line.
After their first week's mission work was complete, the group of students
were riding back to where they were staying when one of the young men
mentioned that he was looking forward to getting his pictures of the
children developed. But he made the mistake of saying black children.
"Why do they have to be "black" children? Why can't they just be
children? Why you gotta bring color into it?" came the reply from the
seat behind the young man. The young lady treated the members of the
van to a ten minute lecture on the evils of racism.
Silence reigned in the van for the next few minutes as all of the students
absorbed what had been said. Then the driver of the van, in an attempt
to break the awkward silence, mentioned that they were never going to
get home if they kept catching all of these red lights.
My former student's reply was "Why they gotta be "red" lights? Why can't
they just be lights? Why you gotta bring color into it?"
They rode the rest of the way home in silence.