I grew up in a little town on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. There were no blacks in that town—at least I never saw one. There were none in the school either. Aside from one racist comment my dad made when I was in High School that shocked me at the time, there was never any mention of race at all.
I knew the history of slavery. And the war to end it. On the nightly news there were riots at different times – one close to us in Boston that I remember. There were reports of buses, and of Martin Luther King marches and, of course, his death. But those things were far away from me. And somehow I thought that whatever the problems were they had been dealt with because the reports stopped.
All that to say that I had no idea. No idea of the history of hate. No idea of the hurt. No idea of the problem.
When our daughter was about two she and I were waiting in a hospital waiting room while Glenn visited a church member. Renee looked around and saw a little girl her age. She pointed and said “Her brown.” (And two year olds never whisper!) The little girl’s mother looked at me and it was obvious she expected a certain kind of response.
In the seconds I had, I’m sure the Spirit gave me the words to say. What came out of my mouth was “God made people in lots of pretty colors.” Renee accepted that and the two played together until Glenn returned.
I have talked to blacks over the years to try to understand. And I have tried to make all my kids in Sunday School feel special. I have learned some things, but I will never fathom the hurt. Will never understand what it is like to grow up black. But, as I respond to people, I try to keep those words the Spirit gave me in mind.
God made people in lots of pretty colors.