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THE VOICE OF A BLACK WOMAN

I've always been aware of racism growing up as a little girl as there was a white family that lived next door to me and their little girl and I became friends. She had a little pool that we would play in the front yard. We would meet to play at the borders of our homes to not be out of the eyesight of our parents' windows. Her last name was Ratcliff. As a little girl, I thought her name was funny and so was she. I remember the day that I wanted to play with her and she told me that she couldn't play with me anymore. I didn't understand why, the only thing I could wonder is, if I did anything. I vaguely remember my mother trying to explain to me what she felt the reason was and told me not to go over there anymore. I could sense that she gave that command to keep me safe and I followed her instructions. After awhile, those same "little girls" were growing up, seeing each other leave out to go to different schools. They soon moved away.


Then my younger sister came along and she too begin to play with a little white girl across the street every now and then. One day she wanted to take a book over to read together. Our Mother tells the story of that day while my sister and the little girl was playing, she hears the screen door open while she was cooking in the kitchen. My sister is looking mad and our Mother asked her what was the matter? She replies, "I don't want to play with that d@$% girl anymore!" Haaaa....now she's about 6 or 7 and our home was Christian with no foul language. So whatever happened that day over there, really got her juices flowing. A neighbor warned us about that family because of a racist vibe they felt from the adults. I can't really say if what went down was race related, however, my sister was no longer able to go over there again.


I could share many stories. Not for sympathy, instead, understanding of how these experiences can shape the culture even as a child in any race. It matters how we raise our children, how we shape their environment and actively teach them with our words and actions to love everyone. And it is difficult to do when all you see and know is one race or nationality. For blacks, it's often difficult for us to get to know other cultures best until we become an adult because we must live on the sides of town that are affordable even though your parents may have wanted a better way. We were defaulted to attend the neighborhood schools that were not funded well so that we could have nice books, desks, painted walls, nice landscaped yards and a good playground. We grew up being proud to be black, however, it didn't afford us to integrate with other cultures so they could know us and we could know them.


Question 1: What culture or race are you surrounding your family with? Teaching them to know only one race can create biases, prejudices and stereotypes. It hinders their growth to learn from each other and develop a love for someone that is different from them.


I become a young adult and have seen and heard the use of the N-word, if not towards me, towards people I knew. I was equipped with knowledge growing up concerning these things. But I was more equipped in Christianity and knowing Christ's love for people and how we are to love others also. If you are reading this and are a Christian, love is our first responsibility to others and that has nothing to do with race or gender. If you are not a Christian, just morally you should have a core value to respect people and not judge them by what you see without even knowing who they are and what has shaped them as a person. I was racially profiled by a white officer at the age of 24. One late night, I was behind him at a red light and he did a u-turn in the road and came up behind me and when the light turned green, he pulled me over in an empty, dark parking lot. When I asked why he pulled me over, he didn't answer, but made me hand over my license. I wasn't aware of all of my rights at that time, so I complied. It was scary, because then I didn't have a cellphone with a camera during that time. To this day, I never got my answer on why he pulled me over...


Question 2: Is it difficult for you to love people who are different or look different from you? Have you taken on the biases from your family, friends, TV, movies, media or a bad experience? Do you automatically assume that all blacks are poor, criminals, lazy, or thugs? An image doesn't reflect the entire culture lifestyle, personality or heart.


Now I'm married and a mother of two beautiful black children. Who hasn't given us any real problems and never been in trouble by the law. When they were little, I didn't give thought to race affecting them until my son was in the 3rd grade and he is in a classroom of two white teachers. The black students in the class were my son, his boy cousin and a few more girls. My son was advanced because he was in private school with advanced curriculum before we placed him in public school. The teachers spent the entire year trying to convince me and my cousin that our boys had ADHD. Really? Now don't get me wrong, if there was clear evidence that my child needed help, as his mother, I am obligated to help him and not ignore it. However, to this day, he has never had learning issues, developmental or hyperactive issues. He made good grades and in his senior year in college. This is what our black communities have been up against for years, often labeling black boys with developmental issues in order for them to be put on medicines and disciplinary actions by white teachers. And we knew what was happening right away and those teachers were confronted about their actions. My son says to this day, those were the worse teachers he ever had.


Question 3: When seeing the black culture, do you automatically question their intelligence? Even in smaller black kids? If you are a teacher, do you keep your focus more on the black kids for behavior issues than the whites? Do you take the time to know the child and their background?


Our experiences are real and although we keep functioning in this world, it doesn't mean that we do not feel the pain and stain of what has been projected on us through the ages. Be willing to have the hard conversations with your circle, speak up and stand for what's right not popular or the norm, have empathy and educate yourself. Black Lives Matter!!!!......too.


Let's pray for each other and the world and learn to love as Christ!


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