Last evening I listened to a black sportscaster and a black minister talk about the current problems in our society. They shared some of the experiences they had when they were growing up and I realized something: “I know that I don’t know what it is like to be black growing up in our society.”
Mind you, I have had black friends and have interacted with many on a personal level. My father hired a black woman to take care of us when we were teenagers. He ordered Ebony magazine and had us read it so we could have an understanding of their culture. As a teenager, I protested outside of an establishment that wouldn’t allow blacks to be members. All that said, knowing about them and even knowing them has still not given me a true understanding of what their experience has been like.
In all of my interactions with my black friends, they have never shared their negative experiences with me. They bore their burdens quietly and with dignity and were a continual example to me. They never used their skin color as a reason for not succeeding at whatever endeavor they were trying to accomplish. One of my friends grew up in the south and I never heard her complain about the treatment she or her family must have received. I always waited for the subject to come up but it never did. One time she was talking about someone who was unkind to her at the store she worked at. Her comment was, “Oh well, they just don’t know any better.” That was her attitude…the people were just ignorant, and of course, they most certainly were.
I spent about an hour last night thinking about my friends and what it has been like for them. I was struck by the suffering they must have gone through each and every day just being a different color than the rest of us. This morning my heart has been expanded by allowing a part of their suffering to become my own. I can only join the Gaither Vocal Band and sing:
“I KNOW A CHANGE IS COMING, LET IT START IN ME.”