• Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Meta

In these Unsettled and Disturbing Days

I didn’t want to write about racial issues.  What can I say?  Why voice my thoughts? I’m a white, retired elementary public-school teacher.  I grew up in a small Tennessee county where the only black people worked in the kitchen of a restaurant near the Obey River bridge that spans Dale Hollow Lake.

            When I was young, I sang a song in Sunday School class about people of different colors, and my teacher taught that all people were equal in God’s sight. I’ve never questioned that lesson.

            When I see and hear and read about deaths, injuries, riots, and destruction, the well-known Sunday School song plays in my head.  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

            And when I see and hear and read about deaths, injuries, riots, and destruction, I’m sad and feel unsettled, restless, helpless. I think of my friends who are black.  I think of their children.  Their spouses.  Their siblings.  And I hurt for all of them.

            I reached out individually to two black women friends. One was a TTU basketball player and the other is a teacher whose classroom, a few years ago, was right next door to mine.  One has children who are university graduates; the other has young children.  I respect these women and gladly call them friends. Although I haven’t sat face-to-face with either recently, I hope they both know I’m willing to help them anytime.

            So, I asked Leah and Summer two questions. How I can share that although our skin color is different, our hearts, our minds, and our bodies are the same?  That even though our experiences and ‘upbringings’ are different, that our choices are the same?

            Leah disagreed that our life choices are the same.  She’s right; each person’s choices are different along life’s path.  I meant, but didn’t say, our choices in our actions and reactions.  Leah wrote, “I do feel that when we lead with love, we have the best opportunity to learn, overcome fears of the unknown, and build bridges!”

            Summer responded that the key is choice. She wrote, “We can choose how we see those around us, even if it challenges us. We can choose to hear and acknowledge others’ experiences, even if it differs from what we’ve heard or thought before. We can choose to be different from our upbringing, even if it makes our family uncomfortable. We can choose to learn from the past, (including a past that wasn’t written in school textbooks) so that our today and tomorrow are different. Today we must become uncomfortable. So that tomorrow will be a little more comfortable.”

            My friends wrote words that I couldn’t.  Love. Opportunity to learn. Overcome fears of the unknown. Build bridges. Choose how we see others. Hear and acknowledge.  Learn from the past.  Be uncomfortable today so tomorrow will be more comfortable.            

Although my unsettled feelings are uncomfortable, Leah and Summer give me hope for more comfortable tomorrows.