A couple of weeks ago, my job afforded me the opportunity to sit at a table where a real-life debate fueled by ethnicity and our American history got uncomfortably amazing!
It was a diverse table of college recruiters enjoying a Mexican meal in between fairs. I think we were discussing the upcoming election and one recruiter stated his disdain for the US. He said he and his wife often battle the thought of selling all their property and moving somewhere outside the country. He is a black man. A white woman then starting to question his stance and why he would call his land “horrible”. This lead to a spiral of side conversations across the table, which ultimately dove us into the trans-Atlantic slave trade, World War Two, ancestral histories, KKK chapters in Georgia, the current government, and so many other tangents. Every comment pivoted from their continual debate on whether or not the US is worthy of being a place where He, again a black man is proud to be. Needless to say, the conversation became heated—but in a good way.
Later that week I engaged in another conversation with a more seasoned recruiter. This gentleman, in his early, to mid-70s. He shared his background of growing up with a Cherokee dad and a Jewish mom. In NC he was the only student in his class who had to use the outhouse. In addition, he stated that as a teen, he even marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But, instead of it being a beautiful throwback moment as it would be to me. He looks back in pure regret on that day. He stated that it isn’t a pleasant memory to him or anything he’s proud of, mainly because His dad lost his job and his family received a lot of backlash because he was captured in the local paper. He chose to March because of the Greensboro sit-in of 1960 and felt compelled to help out people who were mistreated. His young mind questioned why he couldn’t use the same bathroom as everyone else….then as an adolescent, he still couldn’t fathom discrimination, still and yet, he was faced with it daily!
As I thanked him for marching, our conversation shifted into Christian duties. We are called to love. Many of you know the story of the good Samaritan and if you don’t, go to google friend! I think an act of loving is standing up for what’s right, I think real love will challenge what isn’t right.
The next day I went to lunch with a Taiwanese recruiter, she was adopted by white American parents, and she asked the table if we often get the question from students “What are you?” Also at this lunch sat a Belize and Chinese bi-racial recruiter, a Mexican recruiter, and another Latin-X woman. Want some icing for this multicultural cake? We were dining at a Mennonite place. One of my favorite books is Why Are All The Black Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? because it highlights research and the psychological reason why we draw towards our ethnic groups. You see it in your job, schools, just as I see it, but what is natural isn’t always right? Right?! It was a nice change from the table earlier in the week where I was the only biracial present and I was black and white where the tension so often lies. But now I wonder, does there always have to be tension? I often think, if we just stick in our comfortable bubbles, maybe the intense conversations like the Clash can be avoided…
In lieu of mid-term elections, I took the chance to actually try and inform myself on candidates this year. I didn’t want to vote based on social circles whether those be directly related to political parties, my faith, my income level, my core friends, or any other affinities. It was hard to do! I’m actually the person who said earlier this year I don’t believe my vote counts. I literally just vote because some of my ancestors couldn’t and many died so that I could. Those who know me well, know that I am not keen on the political scene. Sadly, my knowledge in history lacks too. What I do know is black suffrage prolonged until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Which then makes me beg the question of what injustices in history—American and global could have been shortened if Christians worked out that LOVE word. What injustices today carry on because we would rather sit on our laurel than go hold a sign a, be a safe haven for someone, make a stride to end human trafficking, or simply speak up in a room? There’s a sequel to the WWJD bracelets and guess what it is… HWLF! What would Jesus do? He would love first!
Thanks for sticking with my scattered thoughts thus far. We are headed home…here’s my point: As a believer, I think it’s hard to be a Christian—as in the life choices can be hard, but I think intercultural dynamics in America make it harder than it should be. What have you been called to do? To love your neighbor. That’s literally it! Love God, Love People.
Jesus said in John 13:14, “Love one another; as I have loved you”.
Well love is hard. —-can I get an amen?!
Love is active, it’s sacrificial, it’s soooooo many things, check Corinthians chapter 13 if you don’t know what I mean! However, I think if you claim to be a Christian, it’s time to stop hiding behind all the other hats you wear and start loving people like Jesus loves us. People from all walks of life. How can you be an ally? Free mom hugs at pride events is a great way. Do you feel a certain way about the preservation of His creation? Well, then I hope you voted for the Outdoor Stewardship Fund (in GA). Are you tired of the divides in certain neighborhoods and school districts? Then sign up to be a Big Brother or Big Sister and commit to the commitment! Whenever you hear/see an injustice, take that Jesus strength in you and SAY something! Do something! Love FIRST like he would.
It also means you can’t just walk away when conversations are uncomfortable… as representatives for various institutions we talk a lot about “diversity and inclusion” in the college recruiting world. “The church” doesn’t talk about it enough!
I recall talking to my Bestie Mel back in October and mentioning the voting doesn’t change anything thoughts. (I still believe that more than I believe it does.)To me what causes CHANGE is real life, raw, honest conversations. These can’t happen if I’m only eating with my friends who are the same nationality, ethnicity, political party and pay-grade! So many pastors preach on bringing someone different from you into your home. Jesus did it and we should too. I get it’s not easy to do… but nothing in life ever is!
P.S. So if you’ve stayed with me in this lengthy message thus far THANK YOU! My final call to action is this. Thanksgiving and other holidays are upon us. Use them to invite someone different from you to share a meal. No need for an agenda, or announcement about how grand it will be. Simply be—eat, converse, LISTEN. And I hope if you’re eyes are opened to some new revelation after, you will share it with me!