*There is some graphic language ahead, just to forewarn readers.*
When I posted this video of my youngest son, Jay, hearing with his hearing aids for the first time... I did not know that it would go viral and be at the center of a religious and racial throw down. One would think that there is hardly anything that is less scandalous than a baby getting hearing aids, but apparently... this gets people riled up! It started as a "thank God this baby can hear again" vs. "no, thank SCIENCE that this baby can hear again."
You can watch this adorable video here:
This absurd debate on our youtube video got pretty nasty. And when anything on the internet gets nasty, it can get racial real quick. And that is precisely what happened. I would be playing Candy Land with my kids when my phone would alert me that some racist so and so thinks that I am a "nigger lover."
Or I would be at dinner with a friend, and sure enough, buzz buzz.... so and so thinks that my kids is an "f***ing ugly retarded little monkey."
Yes. This is happening.
And when I tell my white friends this story, 99% of the time, their reaction is first a gasp, and then "You know you can disable those comments right?"
Yes, I do know that I can disable online comments from my video. But, that will not disable those types of comments from my boys' life, from their reality. I have the privilege (and it is a distinctly white privilege) to "disable" my awareness of racism. I have the luxury of pretending that everything is fine and equal and okay in our country. I can choose to ignore what's really going on. My black sons will not have that luxury.
My #AdamsActs for Day 12 was doing a free speaking event (with my sweet and insightful friend, Kayla) at Monroe Community College for an organization called Campus Ambassadors where I spoke about the role of white people in uprooting racism... ya know, a nice breezy topic. #dryheavingfordays We talked about the broader historical context that has created an environment where racial tensions continue to increase. We talked about systemic, institutionalized racism, covert and overt racism and racist mindsets (which we all have and need to uproot, by the way) and how these manifest themselves in our current racial climate, as well as how these things are internalized by people of color.
I count this as an act of kindness because I believe in social justice. I believe that we all need to care a little bit more. We all need to try a little bit harder. We all need to seek understanding and awareness and, frankly, we need to stop "disabling the comments." Just because we choose to, figuratively, block the comments does not mean the trolls aren't still out there. And they aren't just out there on the internet... sometimes they work in our children's schools, sometimes they are judges or lawyers or in law enforcement. Sometimes, they are politicians. Sometimes, they are your neighbors, or your friends or your family members. Sometimes, guys, they're us. We are all capable of wrong thinking and heinous prejudicial mindsets. So, I consider it a kindness to challenge students to think differently, to become passionate about social justice, to seek wisdom and understanding.
I don't care about the growing racial tension in our country simply because two of my five children happen to be black. I care about this because if I claim to be a follower of Christ, I had better darn well have my values in line with his. And Jesus, my friends, had a heart for the oppressed. As a Christ-follower it is my role, my responsibility, and my heritage to care for the poor, the weak, the outcasts, the imprisoned... and the oppressed. Jesus engaged with the sick, with women and with ethnic "outsiders" in a way that was considered radical for his time. He was a revolutionary. And I want to be a revolutionary. I don't want to stick to that old script of lies that says "we are all equal" and "if you work hard enough" and "we don't see color."
All of that is essentially garbage guys, because it's just not true. So, maybe some won't consider this a kindness, maybe some will think I am race baiting, or stirring up trouble. But I am doing these acts of kindness in memory of my big brother, and I am certain that this would have made him proud. As a high school student, he won a Martin Luther King, Jr. essay contest, and his message was not only unusual for a young, white, suburban kid of his age, but exceptionally insightful. Plus, I am really tired and I don't feel good and I honestly just want to go to bed. So, I am just asking that you hear my heart on this. Things aren't good out there people. And we can change it. We can stop ascribing socioeconomic problems to race. Violence, gangs, drugs... these things are not "black people" problems. These are poverty problems. Anyone in an impoverished environment is equally susceptible to these issues. These issues are a result of limited resources, poor education, and a lack of support. If they seem to affect black folks more than white, then please understand that it's because there is a 300 year history in this country of limited resources and worse education for people of color.
There are many wonderful resources out there to help us better comprehend the impact of systemic racism. There are many fantastic black churches you can attend to develop relationships, bridge gaps, and to deepen your understanding of black culture and to grow your empathy for the plight of an entire people group in our nation. Just try. Do something. Attempt to understand. And when you have an opportunity to "disable the comments," choose not to. Choose to walk alongside your black brothers and sisters, with your eyes and mind wide open and aware. Only then, collectively, can we begin to truly disable racism.