I’m a white girl from Europe. Obviously, I don’t have any experience of what it’s like to grow up black in America, aside from what I read in magazines, newspapers, and books.
But I want to try to understand. Because watching the news, it hits me again and again how much racism still exists in this day and age. Sometimes it’s blatant, sometimes it’s subtle, but it’s there.
Years ago, an African-American friend of mine told me how the police arrested her husband for what they saw as drunk and disorderly, while in reality he was having side effects from his severe diabetes. I’m sure we all have heard or read stories like this. In their acclaimed book How Race Is Lived in America, correspondents of the New York Times share many such stories of how people of color experience their race being an issue.
But what are we doing to change this? Are we using our youth ministry to fight racism? Because let’s face it:
It’s not okay that black kids are being discriminated against.
It’s not okay that moms of black kids are afraid every time their son leaves the house.
It’s not okay that black kids have learned to fear the people who are supposed to protect them.
And it’s not okay that we accept all this as the way it is.
I don’t have the answers. It’s not like I have tons of experience with African-American culture, or even with American culture for that matter. But I do know where to start: by trying to understand.
It’s why I loved this short video by the New York Times, where young black kids share their stories of growing up black. It’s sobering, yet challenging because we need to change this reality for them. I don’t know how, but together we can figure it out.