Even though raised in a Midwestern, mostly Caucasian neighborhood, I wasn’t aware there was any difference between white people and black people. I didn’t know such a word as race existed. I knew one of my neighbors couldn’t come over for supper on Friday because she didn’t eat meat on Friday. My other friend ate food that I thought was strange and, still a third said two sets of grace at the meal.
My first introduction into race and discrimination was the year I was six years old. I was playing with a friend, “Punkin.” Her family was African-American. It was time for her to go in for supper and another friend, “Paula,” returned home. I went to Paula and said, “Let’s play.”
Her response was so strange. She said, “I can’t play with you after you play with those n****rs.” I remember feeling bad at being excluded from playing with my best friend. I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong.
I went home hollering for my mother (probably at the top of my voice), “Mom, what’s a n****r?” Her response to me was, “Where did you hear that?” After a discussion, she told me that this was not a nice word, but that some people use it to designate black people.
She went on to explain that there are people who think that others are worth less because of their skin color. She said, “We don’t talk like that. You didn’t do anything wrong. You continue playing with whom you want. You be you and others will see Jesus in you.”
She further used it as a launching pad to say that our family did not discriminate between people because all people were important to God. Jesus died for all people everywhere and Jesus calls us to love all of His creation. The colors that God gave everyone and everything makes our world a wonder-filled place. How less lovely would our world be if it were only monochrome? How much would we miss!