Last year, my oldest son was in Kindergarten. Whether this was right or wrong (I’m not sure yet), we had yet to expose our children to the reality that racial prejudice exists in the world and how it has plagued our nation. This has never been a concept that our children had been aware of. We teach them that every person was made in God’s image and for His glory. Since before they could speak a word, we have spoken to them about Christ’s love and sacrifice for all peoples. And we have tried to teach them to love everyone and treat all people with kindness. We have had people from all kinds of races and ethnicities into our homes to share a meal with, talk with, laugh with, and pray with.
I wasn’t ready for him to learn about how broken and unjust our world can be and had been…but it was time.
So, February rolled around and then began Black History Month. He learned about Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and other heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. He learned about slavery and racial segregation. He came home talking non-stop about these eras in our nation. He was shocked and appalled by how blacks were treated in our country, “The Land of the Free.” He said to me, “Dad! Did you know back then I wouldn’t have been able to go to school with or play with my brown friends?!”
It made me think of Dr. King’s famous speech when he said, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
We both talked for a while about how bad it is to not love someone or to treat someone differently because of the color of their skin. We talked about what God thinks of that sort of thing. We talked about how one day, Christians from all kinds of racial and ethnic backgrounds will gather around God’s throne to worship Him together. And how we will sit together at “the table of brotherhood” in what the Bible calls, “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.”
Then we talked about how there is still this kind of evil in the world and what our roles are as followers of Jesus.
I wasn’t ready for him to know about this evil. I wasn’t ready for him to know about racial injustice. I wasn’t ready for him to now that some of God’s Image-bearers have been and in many ways still are treated as sub-human.
I wasn’t ready. But it was time. I’m glad he found it shocking and wrong. I hope he always does. And I hope he is always part of the change.