I’ve been ignorant. With tears running down my face I beseech my black brothers and sisters to forgive my ignorance. I can no longer ignore the fact that your experience is very different from mine and I’m heartbroken for you.
I was raised to not see race. My dad grew up in Gary, Indiana. My grandparents along with several aunts and uncles taught in Gary public schools. When my grandparent’s church and friends moved to the suburbs, they stayed and became the minority in their neighborhood. They had no fear or reason to leave the people they worked with and were in community with. They saw people, neighbors, colleagues, and friends; they didn’t see color.
We moved away from Gary when I was five to a small farming community two hours east. We lived there for 10 years and I can’t think of one person in all those years who was anything other than white.
Our next stop, Iowa City, had more diversity due to it’s being a collage town, but even then my high school had only a small percentage of African Americans.
My Christian college in Ohio was even less diverse, but ironically, right down the road from Wilberforce and Central State colleges.
Growing up in communities fairly devoid of racial tension gave me an innacurate view of America. And having been raised to see people, and not color, I have been a little annoyed that the differences and tensions are being thrown in my face lately.
I wanted to believe deep down in my heart that those being mistreated were for criminal reasons and not racial. I never saw my grandparents treat their neighbors with anything but dignity, so why would I expect anything different from others, especially those sworn to serve and protect?
Hearing these Godly men tell their stories today broke me. To learn that as young children growing up in this country, their houses were vandalized, they were ostracized, called names, and made to feel unwanted and unprotected in their communities opened my eyes. To know that in the wake of recent events, they have to prepare their children for similar atrocities is beyond my comprehension.
Thank you for sharing your stories. I am no longer naive. I am no longer ignorant. I hear you. I see you. I weep for the injustices you have experienced and I will no longer be silent.