“That’s Just the Way It Was”

protestors-rally-at-jfk-airport-against-muslim-immigration-banI travel around talking  with Presbyterians about assorted issues and one of those issues is Race. As I speak with mostly White audiences, I often ask:

What is your first memory about race?

Among the answers shared:

  • The Black kids and White kids never sat together in the cafeteria at school.
  • We had a Black housekeeper who was just like family. 
  • Our housekeeper always ate in the kitchen but we ate in the dining room
  • I had Black friends at school but we never visited each other’s homes.
  • There were “Black Churches” and there were “White Churches” and everybody kept to their own race.
  • There was a Black woman who did the ironing at our house late in the afternoon after her other job.  My mother often commented that she liked her because she was so quiet.

And many times, these comments were followed up with:

That’s just the way it was.

It was accepted as A Fact Of Life that Black people worked for White people, women served men, and children did as they were told.  Even when we experienced unfairness or abuse, we were expected to buck up and accept it.

That’s just the way it is.

The world is different now.

I’d like to believe that we recognize now what we didn’t recognize 100 years ago or 50 years ago or even 25 years ago:

  • that all human beings of every color, age, gender, sexual orientation, creed and nationality are created in the image of God.
  • that no person is an object to be used by another person
  • that all people deserve dignity and basic human freedoms
  • that it is the responsibility of every human being to serve the vulnerable, the weak, the powerless.

I believe that these sacred assumptions are backed up by the Holy Scriptures of all three monotheistic religions.

The world is different now . . . except when it’s not.

Last week’s decrees against refugees and certain immigrants coming into the United States were decried by believers and unbelievers alike who represent a variety of political perspectives.  It was a terrible week in that the new policies signed by executive order made our nation unrecognizable.  It was a wonderful week in that people of faith stepped up to say This Is NOT The Way It Will Be.  This is not who we are as Americans.  This is not who we are as human beings.

It’s a good time to be a follower of Jesus.  It’s a good time to take a stand even if we’ve never taken a stand before (because we didn’t think we could or that we had to.)  It’s a good time to re-read Bonhoeffer.

It’s a good time to change what we can change for the sake of a Power greater than ourselves or any executive order.

Image of protesters at JFK airport over the weekend challenging the refugee and immigrant travel bans.

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2 responses to ““That’s Just the Way It Was”

  1. Hope none of your extended family got caught in this. We are particularly concerned about green card holders, international students and separated families.

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