This article is written as a white Christian striving to be more intentional in her Christian walk.
“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Everyone knows this children’s song. Love is what Christians strive to demonstrate. Our adversary, Satan, does not like that goal.
You can overcome Satan’s negativity not just by talking to your children about racism but acting in ways that counter racism.
Instruct your children that it is not preferable to become “colorblind.” Instead, celebrate differences as Jesus appreciated each person’s uniqueness.
Jesus commands us to love everyone. Do you belong to organizations that explicitly or implicitly exclude certain racial groups? Would Jesus belong? Instead, get involved in multiracial organizations including Christian, community, hobby or volunteer groups.
Making a conscious effort to make friends with those of other races enriches the whole family. Pray and ask God to open your eyes and reveal opportunities. Be intentional. We are fortunate at Southeast with many ways to expand friendships.
When my two boys were younger, we connected with the track team of a church with a mostly black congregation. We made great friends, and our boys had a fabulous experience. They later joined the church’s basketball team.
This continued four seasons. We traveled to meets and did not feel like the minority. Years later, we still keep in touch with some of those parents. We were all brothers and sisters in Christ.
A well-known children’s camp song goes: “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”
Opportunities may be in your neighborhood. Invite racially diverse neighbors to your home for a meal. If you are a senior citizen, engage in activities with people of another race. You can be an example to your adult children and grandchildren. Enrich your history by learning how others think and navigate the world God gave us all.
If you have school-age children, invite a classmate of a different race home after school to play and do homework. If you have teens and young adult children, engage them in multiracial activities. Make sure friendships present themselves naturally. Never make someone of another race feel like a “project.” Be genuine in building new friendships.
Speak with your older children about implicit bias and how people of color may be viewed differently. If a white parent, ask your children if they ever consider that their black friends may sometimes have to work harder to overcome initial negative assumptions due to prejudiced people in the world.
Remind your child not to allow a friend to get away with making racially offensive jokes and especially not to laugh at such jokes.
Implicit racism is saying nothing when prejudice is displayed by others.
Explain that it is everyone’s concern to correct racial injustices. When one family member in the body of Christ hurts, we all do. Our struggle should not be against each other but against the negative spiritual forces in the world (Ephesians 6:12).
Have a difficult conversation with an adult black friend. Let your older children witness the exchange and your willingness to listen and understand the context of the other person’s history, especially during this time of local strife.
Be more informed about black history. I recently visited Charleston, South Carolina, and saw where the International African American Museum is being built, which is a wonderful historical reversal in an area where thousands of slaves were brought into the country.
Banners announcing the museum had pictures of black people who had significantly contributed to our history. Watch historically-based movies such as “42” about Jackie Robinson and the racial discrimination he faced as the first black professional baseball player, or the movie “Hidden Figures” about three black female mathematicians in the 1960s who propelled the NASA space program forward in 1962.
It’s about getting to know others personally. It is harder to diminish people once you know them. Satan is the father of lies. God’s desire is for peace and good will for all men. Why dwell on questionable information that promotes divisiveness? Aren’t you grateful God doesn’t stereotype you?
In Acts 10, God changed how Peter thought about the Gentiles. Peter humbled himself to learn from them, and he gained new friends in Christ.
When the apostle John was in God’s presence, heavenly worship consisted of the redeemed singing, “‘You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and language and people and nation’” (Revelation 5:9).
Believers, celebrate our diversity. Pray with your children, “Father, we thank you that no people group is excluded from Your great love. Teach us to truly love one another, as You have so generously loved us.”
Talk to kids about racism? Perhaps, but if you reflect God’s heart for all people, you will be too busy engaging others and living for Christ.
Dr. Ruth Bewley is a psychologist and member of Southeast Christian Church.