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God’s Love of Variety (Blog 61)

God’s Love of Variety (Blog 61)

I am simply awestruck with God’s creation. When we are at our cottage in the countryside of East Texas, I have my quiet times journaling on my laptop, sitting on the porch with the lake across the street in full view. That is what I see. But what I hear are birds, lots and lots of birds. I received a call recently while sitting outside on the porch journaling on my computer. My friend, Walter Parrish (see note at bottom about Walter), the caller, asked where I was. He said it sounded like I was in some kind of bird sanctuary. He was hearing slightly what I was hearing loudly. I also was enjoying a hummingbird who was taking advantage of the sugar water in our hummingbird feeders just a few feet from where I was sitting. Occasionally, one little guy would come towards me and just hover while watching me from about two feet away. God’s creation is wonderful and absolutely amazing. He obviously loves diversity, since he created it as he did.

Speaking of diversity, here are a few interesting facts showing just how diverse God’s creation really is. Although determining the total number of species of living organisms on earth is a challenge and the estimates vary widely among scientists, over two million species have been identified and described. However, total estimates of the true number of species varies. The most widely cited estimate is 8.7 million species, but many believe there are far more than that. Since we were just speaking about birds, know that there are more than 11,000 bird species that have been identified. Estimates of dog breeds are between 195 and 500. Cat breeds are harder to distinguish, but the experts in that field vary between 40 and 70 in their estimates.

But then we get into the big numbers. Scientists estimate that the total number of fish species in the world is approximately 33,600 and more than 3,000 species of snakes exist on the planet. Scientists believe that there are about 435,000 unique land plant species on earth, with tree species numbering 73,300. In the world, some 900 thousand different kinds of living insects are known, by far the largest group within the various types of God’s creatures. That’s almost a billion—nearly impossible to grasp. Even more impossible to fathom are the varieties of colors. It has been determined by people who determine such things that there are somewhere around 18 decillion varieties of colors available for your viewing pleasure. That’s an 18 followed by 33 zeros. Many more facts and figures could be included here, but you get the point—God is the Creator of unfathomable amounts of diversity, showing his obvious love for it.

United Nations?

Why am I including this topic in writing primarily about insights I gained from a challenging three weeks in the hospital last year? (See my series, “Eternity’s Brink,” on my YouTube channel, Gordon Ferguson Teaching Ministry.) I had scores of different medical caretakers during those seemingly endless days and nights. The diversity among them was a bit shocking at first and certainly fascinating. From a racial or ethnic standpoint, it was like entering a meeting of the United Nations. I met people whose countries of family origin numbered in the dozens. As we talked, I found that many of them were second generation and had never been to the country from which their parents came. Since I had been to most of those countries, it was exciting to describe them and my experiences there. As would be expected, the physical characteristics of those serving me varied greatly, including their various shades of color. Some had very light skin and some had very dark skin. The majority fell into categories that we would call people of color. All of them were caring, sensitive, serving human beings, made in the image of a God who loves diversity.

To be very candid, being served by them caused me to think about those of my country who have views that in one way or another could be classified as white superiority or white supremacy. They might not tout it or even realize it, but these thinking patterns are embedded somewhere in their psyche. There are few views of one’s fellow human beings in how they value other people that I disdain more. The concept of white superiority in any form is not only indicative of gross ignorance, it is an affront to God as Creator. It is also the result, as I said, of incredible ignorance.

No Such Thing as Race

In the first place, the word “race” itself is a misnomer. There is no such thing as race as most think of it from either scientific or biblical viewpoints. Regarding the scientific viewpoint, I wrote an article several years ago explaining why people are different colors. Although I am not a scientist nor an expert in the field of racial origins, the facts are quite available for anyone willing to do some research. And many of these facts are not recent ones. A well-known anthropologist, Ashley Montagu, who in the same year I was born (1942) published a book entitled, “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: the Fallacy of Race.” This stuck with me not only because the book was written in my birth year, but Ashley was my mother’s maiden name. Further, the topic of the book was absolutely intriguing to me. Montagu was quite the interesting character, a Jewish atheist, who surprisingly didn’t subscribe to Darwin’s views on race (described in his writings during the latter half of the 1800’s).

Darwin believed that black people were much less evolved than white people, and as a result, less intelligent. Darwin also believed something similar about females generally, regardless of color. But Ashley rejected that part of Darwinism and along with Albert Einstein, spoke out strongly against the views and ill treatment of black Americans by white Americans. A part of that action no doubt came from their common Jewish backgrounds and the racism they had endured personally. But it was far more than that to Montagu – it was a matter of science. His views ended up pretty much carrying the day with his fellow anthropologists in rejecting any supposed scientific basis for race. Experts in that field by and large agree with Montagu’s conclusion that race is a fallacy.

Sunlight and Vitamins

Most living organisms have an incredible capacity to adapt to their environment. Humans obviously share that adaptability. My good friend James Williams, a black brother in our church, spent his entire career teaching Social Studies to 8th grade students in his home state of Mississippi. He has said to me a number of times that our skin color and other physical characteristics trace directly back to the proximity of our ancient ancestors to the equator. The closer they were to the equator, the darker their skin. Not only is that a simple answer, it is absolutely accurate. But why is it accurate? Primarily it is an issue of sunlight and vitamins, of two types.

The melanin in the outer layer of our skin worked over long time periods to allow one type to be absorbed into the body and the other type to avoid being taken out of the body. Vitamin D must be absorbed in sufficient amounts to build calcium. In northern climates where the sunlight is less available, the skin must remain lighter in tone to make sure that enough vitamin D is available. The other vitamin, called folate, a vitamin B complex, is significantly affected by the ultraviolet light from the sun, and dispersed from the body rather quickly if the skin is light. The body’s folate reserves can be reduced significantly in a brief time if the sunlight is intense and the skin is very light colored. Hence, those in the tropics must have darker skin and the melanin takes care of that. Bottom line, if your ancient ancestors lived in low sunlight areas, they developed light skin; if they lived in high sunlight areas, they developed dark skin. You can read the details and find the information sources in my article, “Why Are Humans Different Colors? (Blog 42) on this blogsite.

I also have a segment in that article showing that DNA suggests nothing of the presence of different biological races. I read an interesting article online from Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts of Science website. It was written April 17, 2017 by Vivian Chou and entitled, “How Science and Genetics are Reshaping the Race Debate of the 21st Century.” Under the subheading, “New findings in genetics tear down old ideas about race,” the following statement was made: “Ultimately, there is so much ambiguity between the races, and so much variation within them, that two people of European descent may be more genetically similar to an Asian person than they are to each other.” What Montague wrote 80 years ago as an anthropologist aligns perfectly with what geneticists are saying right now. Race is a fallacy.

The Bible and Human Nature

From a biblical standpoint, Acts 17:26 could not be clearer: “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” Although the earth’s one solitary race, the human race, began with Adam, Noah and his family of eight people were the progenitors of all to follow them, as Genesis 10:32 states: “These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.” Bible believers need to start accepting what their Bibles say, namely that we are all of one race. If we accept that obvious truth, then we will learn to not only accept our human differences but to rejoice in them. The multitude of different cultures and ethnicities contribute so much of value to those of other cultures and ethnicities. Think food, clothes, music, dances, inventions—and the list could go on. In our global age, the societies in virtually all nations have more of a mixture in them than most would imagine. Why not admit it, embrace it and enjoy it? It is an undeniable fact—and an irreversible fact.

My own country, the United States, is more wacked out on racial issues than one can imagine. The political quagmire we are in presently has contributed greatly to the problem. While I deeply regret what is happening in our society, I am not at all surprised by it. In my fairly lengthy article on this topic mentioned above, I have this subtitle for one section: “Haters Gonna Hate!” Without Christ and a commitment to imitate him and thus follow his principles, hating is inevitable. It always has been. “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). What Paul wrote two millennia ago describes our present age perfectly, as do more lengthy passages like Romans 1:18-32. I have another lengthy article on another website of mine asking the question of whether Covid-19 is a discipline of God or not, and in it, I go through the Romans 1 passage in some detail. (See it on The world is the world is the world, and without Christ, it always will be.

Why? Easy answer. “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). As children of God, followers of Christ, how do we avoid Satan’s control? Once again, easy answer, but challenging to apply given the effectiveness of Satan’s deception. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

One evidence of loving the world is found in a rejection of the beauty of God’s diverse creation, especially the human part of his creation. Any view, however subtle, found in our heart of hearts, that places a higher value on one skin color over another is Satanic. It cannot be godly no matter how impressively it might be explained. Knowing enough about how racism of all types works and how it makes people of color feel, I cannot see any evidence of white superiority attitudes without it breaking my heart. Such attitudes are an afront to God and call into question his very design of us human beings as his image bearers. God is love; Satan is hate. Where do you fall on that scale in your views of your fellow humans? Thus you have my perspective on racism developed even more intensely from a hospital bed, sitting with God on the brink of eternity while being served by those of many colors and ethnicities. God bless them!

Back in Business! (Blog 60)

Back in Business! (Blog 60)

I began this blog some years ago and made regular entries for several years. However, I have not been actively writing about this topic lately, although I am still very interested in it and consistently seeking the perspectives of Black friends and even persons of color I don’t know yet (until we talk). I have developed some questions that I ask in order to better understand what they are feeling and facing in their “world” (including what they see in me). As I have often stated, I do not expect the world to change significantly, because it is under the control of Satan (1 John 5:19). The condition of the non-Christian world is summed up succinctly in Titus 3:3 when Paul says that prior to conversion, “We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”

As I am now getting “back in the business” of writing or posting the writing of others, here is what’s coming quickly. First, I spent 23 days in the hospital in 2022 and nearly died. After I recovered enough to leave the hospital, I was filled with insights gained while I was sitting with God on the brink of eternity day after day. I developed these insights into a 20-part video podcast series entitled, “Eternity’s Brink.” This series can be seen on my YouTube channel, “Gordon Ferguson Teaching Ministry.” The last two of those addressed racial issues. They will be the next two blog posts on this site.

Second, I asked a longtime Black friend of mine to write a series of five articles sharing his perspectives and feelings. In the next blog post, I will introduce him and the reasons for the series, after which his articles will be posted one at a time. As I will explain in that introduction, one reason I have not written any articles recently is that I believe Black people need to have the opportunity to speak for themselves. Plus, I know many writers, Black and White, have more expertise on the topic that I do. Yet, I have the obligation to contribute my perspective and thus, along with my friend, can provide a both/and approach.

Thus, I am back in business. Please read the upcoming blog articles and pass them on to your friends. Also feel free to contact me through email to register thoughts or concerns. My email address is on the site, as is a link to my main teaching website.

The Silence Must End (Blog 3)

The Silence Must End (Blog 3)

The silence must end; the conversations must begin. I feel like my role in life right now has become the starter of discussions. My final letter regarding the last two chapters in my book, “My Three Lives,” was sent out to encourage more and more discussions about how to help our movement of churches get back on track in ways that we are not. The beginning of my blog about racial issues, primarily focusing on black and white relationships in the church, was designed to promote understanding, and understanding comes through honest dialogue.

The Silence is Real

Racial oriented discussions between races is rare in the church. Isn’t that an odd thing ─ brothers and sisters who share so much about their personal lives and sins not sharing about racial issues? Why are we not sharing? In a word, fear.

Black Fears

Our black friends in the church appreciate our diversity, as do our white members. We (an editorial we) feel accepted by those of other races in ways that we do not feel accepted outside the church. We are afraid (Satan using fear as one of his best tools) that if we were totally honest about how we felt about being black in our society we might not continue to be so accepted. We are afraid of being judged. We are afraid of losing the depth of friendships we have with those of other races.

We are especially afraid because we know that our white friends are woefully ignorant of our history, from the inception of slavery in America in 1619 to the abolishment of the Jim Crow laws in 1954 (to say nothing of life as black persons since then). Our race was enslaved in one way or another way for nearly 350 years. How can our well-meaning, well-intentioned Caucasian brothers and sisters possibly understand our feelings and fears if they don’t know our history? Hence, we talk to those within our race about these matters but not to those without; even brothers and sisters in Christ. The silence must end!

White Fears

Most whites in the church also avoid the topic. Why? Fear also. Fear of stepping on a mine field of emotions by saying something wrong or hurtful, even with the best of intentions. Fear of exposing our ignorance of black history, feeling embarrassed that we’ve waited so long to start learning. The good news is that we do not have to remain ignorant.

“Wait a minute,” some might be thinking. “I’ve seen at least a half dozen movies about the bad side of black history and read some things too, so I’m not as ignorant as you are saying!” Keep talking ─ you’re proving my point. I’m not just talking to you; I’m talking to me. In spite of the fact that I’ve read more and watched more about racial matters than the large majority of white folks, I’m still in the throes of ignorance. But I am dedicated to learning and willing to expose my ignorance in print as a part of my own learning process. I fully expect to be corrected and guided in love by my black fellow disciples, and I am anxious for this opportunity to keep learning and growing.

Where’s the Proof?

We know that many whites outside of the church are thinking and saying things like this: “”Get over slavery, it was in the past!” “Why do blacks feel the need to boast about their accomplishments every February?” By the way, these two statements came from a young black brother who said that an inner voice prompted these thoughts about how those outside his race are probably thinking. And why would his inner voice come up with these thoughts? Fears of how others might view him, of course. The fear factor is real, and it is often most strongly felt as the fear of rejection.

Black History Month

My friend’s mention of February was in reference to BHM (Black History Month). Actually, there are different views about BHM within both the black population and the white population. Here is my view, and in the context of this article, it’s a pretty dogmatic one. I think both blacks and whites need BHM and much more similar education beyond that one month.

Blacks need to know not just their history of oppression, but much more about black heroes who defied the odds and made their mark; much more about the character of their unknown ancestors who applied more Christian principles to their daily lives than most can even imagine. They would not have survived otherwise.

We white folks need to know about both. “Get over the past” is in one context a very biblical statement. The Bible doesn’t say “obey” unless you have been hurt in the past by society, parents, friends, church folk, or whatever else. It just says “obey.” Okay, I’m good with that, and preach it often in one form or another.

That being said, some things in our past we get over simply by repenting, and other things we have to grow out of after repentance ─ and that takes time, patience, prayer and help from others. But we do have to grow, for God is not pleased with less. Holding on to a victim mindset is contrary to the cross of Christ, no matter what our pain has been.

As an example, suppose a girl was sexually abused almost daily between the ages of 11 to 17 by a family member. Now a half dozen years later, she is at the marriage altar saying her marriage vows. She has been taught in pre-marriage counseling what the Bible says about the beauty of the sexual relationship within the bonds of marriage. Now for the first time she is in bed with someone that God approves.

What happens? Does she just throw an intellectual switch and have a fantastic honeymoon night? Likely not, for that switch doesn’t immediately control our emotional switch. Biblical knowledge of right and wrong is essential, but some things we have to grow in and some things we have to grow out of. Our backgrounds influence us greatly. Repentance of practicing known sins is one thing; Christian growth in difficult areas for us due to our background is yet another.

A Starting Place

Let’s decide to start learning and start talking about the very sensitive area of race. Really, the silence must end. I just received a note last night from a dear brother I hadn’t seen in years, and he told me that the silence on this subject had almost caused him to leave our fellowship of churches. He was not the first one to say that to me, by the way, and it is almost certain that others have already left us. We simply must talk.

Suggested conversation starter for white folks: “Listen, I know that this racial issue has to be really hard for you, and I’ll admit that my understanding of it is certainly limited, but I love you and really want to know what you are thinking and feeling. Can we talk?”

Suggested conversation starter for black folks: “Listen, this is really awkward for me, but our mutual friend Gordon said that we need to talk interracially about racial issues and I think he’s right. I’m feeling a lot these days, and would love to talk in depth about it with you.” If those don’t appeal to you, figure out one that works for you, and let’s start the discussions.

Public Education is Readily Available

I will continue to mention movies, documentaries and written material that I have read or watched, and I have a suggestion about a good way to jump into the deep water on this issue. Go to You Tube and watch a 4 part series by PBS entitled, “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow.” This one will provide you with some amazing history (much of it gut-wrenching and heart-breaking), and it will also help you to see that the end of slavery was not even close to the end of black oppression.

In fact, many slaves were better off as slaves than as freed men and women. At least under slavery they were valued property; after slavery, their value decreased rapidly and thousands upon thousands were killed for no reason other than the perceived need to “keep blacks in their place.”

Proceed Carefully!

When we start delving deeply into black history, it is going to test your emotionality and your spirituality. As I said in the sermon on racism that I hope you have watched by now, seeing certain movies tears my heart out ─ and I’m white (mostly). Watching “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow” took me through a whole gamut of emotions. As I said in the panel discussion in St. Louis near the end, I discovered some pretty strong reverse racism in myself, realizing how prejudiced I am toward white supremacist types.

Satan is the enemy here, and we have to focus on him and his schemes and not on the human agents he uses to carry out his agenda. It was in the very context of the need to forgive others that Paul wrote about Satan’s schemes, and helping us feel justified in not forgiving is one of his grandest schemes. “Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11). We are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44) and do good toward them, trusting God to bring about his just vengeance in his ways and in his timing (Romans 12:14-21).

Talk to Me

Some have asked about why I don’t have a section at the end of each blog post a place for reader’s comments. I understand the question, since the practice is common to blogs. I hope you understand my answer. Every article involving the racial issue that allows such comments almost always devolves into racist comments that were common a hundred years ago. I see them and think, “Has this bigot found his way here in a time machine?”

Then I realize that Satan has managed to keep racial hatred alive and well right into the 21st century. We are all tempted to post our strong opinions about sensitive topics like politics and race on Facebook or other forms of social media, and we end up violating God’s commands such as those in this passage: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:1-2). Keep in mind that Nero was the Emperor in power when Paul wrote this.

Therefore, I ask you to email me with your observations, input and suggestions. Please do not post replies to this blog on my regular teaching page. As you write me, I will learn from you or perhaps have an exchange in which you learn from me. Whether your comments are positive or negative, I will use some of them in future blog posts (without identifying you, of course, unless I ask and receive your permission).

A blog by an individual expresses his or her opinions, with which you are free to agree or disagree. I’m not looking for pats on the back; I’m pleading for much broader discussions about a subject that is dividing our nation and has the potential to divide our churches, even if only in subtle ways. Let’s talk. THE SILENCE MUST END! Until the next post…

The End of Jim Crow? (Blog 4)

The End of Jim Crow? (Blog 4)

As I wrote in my last posting, the Jim Crow laws that supposedly supported “separate but equal” status for people of color ended by decision of the Supreme Court in 1954. On May 17 of that year, Chief Justice Earl Warren publicly announced the court’s decision declaring, “We conclude unanimously that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

He further stated that the “separate but equal doctrine rests on basic premise that the Negro race is inferior,” but in considering the intellect and argument of the black councilmen Thurgood Marshall “proves they are not inferior.”

The real purpose of the Jim Crow laws was to “keep black people in their place” (i.e., subjugated to the whims and opinions of the white population). These types of laws came in stages and in various forms, depending on the state in which they were introduced. They were preceded by far worse laws. For example, the Maryland Colony passed in 1638 what later became known as the “Doctrine of Exclusion.”

These laws grew into the “Slave Codes” of 1705, and all of these laws essentially reduced the black population to being viewed and treated as inferior, degraded, and into almost sub-human status. You can Google these two terms if you want to see more of the horrid specifics of these two laws.

The later “separate but equal” period lasted from the 1896 “Plessy vs Ferguson” law, a landmark constitutional law case of the Supreme Court that upheld state racial segregation laws for public facilities until the 1954 case mentioned in the above paragraph. Sadly, the Plessy vs Ferguson battle started in my home state of Louisiana, and Ferguson was the judge in the case. I just pray that he wasn’t a part of my family tree.

I do hope that you have at least started watching that four part PBS series that I recommended in my last post. When Chief Justice Earl Warren declared those laws unconstitutional and said that blacks were equal to whites and not to be discriminated against on the basis of race, did the Jim Crow era end? Not by a long shot.

Seen Through My Eyes

I went to segregated schools all of the way through college. 1965 was a big year for me. I got married in January, graduated from college in late May or early June, and started my brief public school teaching as a Junior High School band director in September. Two years later, I became the band director at a new High School and the following school year (1968), racial integration began in Shreveport, Louisiana by bringing a few black teachers into the white schools. In our large High School, we had five black teachers. The following year, black students began being ushered into formerly all-white schools. I had quit teaching by then, having been bitten by the “preaching bug” and didn’t witness it personally.

Hence, the Supreme Court decision ending segregation may have been rendered in 1954, but it was 15 years before the actual integration of schools began in my hometown. Basically, the Court could rule but not enforce. Why in the world did it take that long to even begin practicing some semblance of what the Declaration of Independence itself demanded in 1776? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” You already know the answer to that one.

It is important to note the obvious and not-to-obvious implications of that famous sentence. One, the origin of the statement likely traces back to the philosopher John Locke, of the 17th century, who had the term “property” or its equivalent as the final word in the trio of words ending the sentence ─ instead of the term “happiness.”

Two, Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of America, and primary author of the Declaration of Independence, is credited with making the change to happiness. I’m not sure how much of a change that represents in the 21st century, in that the majority of our citizens seem to have been brainwashed into equating happiness with possessions.

Three, Jefferson himself owned slaves, as a man of his times, but his views about the institution were complex and changed in some good ways as he aged ─ yet he never ceased to own slaves.

What Does This Background Teach Us?

Although the foundational documents of our country contained some wonderful concepts, they were clearly not designed with people of color (all colors not white) in mind. As a nation, we have historically prided ourselves on having a “melting pot” population composition, comprised of all types of people.

Yes, our country was founded as a place for new beginnings and opportunities, but those early inhabitants were mostly white. They may have found their way to our shores even from a prison in some European country, but the true nature of the melting pot was far more limited than we imagine.

Consider the inscription found at the base of the Statute of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It should be obvious that this inspirational invitation was not directed toward non-whites, for the blacks arrived as property in slave ships and those already here (Native Americans) were slaughtered and displaced under the rationalization of the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny.” Our history is not nearly so nice and tidy as most history books would lead us to believe. I love so many of the principles upon which our country is based, but their limitations in application have to end if we are to become “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” as our National Anthem words it.

The phrase “Make America Great Again” may appeal to certain white folks, but by now you can surely understand why blacks and other non-whites would say that the phrase is one word too long. “Make America Great” might express a worthy goal, but considering our national history from the perspectives described in this blog, the term again is hollow at best and repulsive at worst.

We Are Still Disciples

This particular article is a heavy one, as have been the ones before it and some of those to follow. Yet, we are still disciples of Christ, set on following his example. Our primary citizenship is a heavenly one, not an earthly one. I keep thinking to myself, “Gordon, why are you writing this?” To restate some of what I have said before, I have several reasons of which I was aware at the beginning and at least one that is dawning on me more as I write.

One, I want my black brothers and sisters to know that their white brothers and sisters want to learn more about the world from their perspective, and become more empathetic and supportive. Two, in order to accomplish that goal, I want to help educate my white brothers and sisters about the broader scope of racism.

It is a systemic American sickness and our society is far from being cured. I chose my blog title mainly to catch people’s eyes and prick their interest in reading, but black tax is the mild form of what many blacks now face in their lives, and their ancestors faced a far, far worse environment.

Three, I want all of us, regardless of race, to get help biblically in order to respond to all of life’s challenges as Christ teaches, and as he lived it when on earth. Perhaps the best description of following Christ in the midst of emotional pain induced by others is this verse: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

Four, I do need to get this all in writing in order to help me work through my own pain regarding racism, even if my pain comes simply from observation as a white person. Maybe there are more reasons for writing, but these answer my question to my satisfaction about why I have chosen to write this blog. More to come, soon…

Personal Perspective: What Was It Like After 1954? (Blog 5)

Personal Perspective: What Was It Like After 1954? (Blog 5)

From my perspective as I entered my teen years, nothing had changed. Blacks were expected to keep in their place, and that expectation covered a very broad spectrum. They lived in what many called N______town, separate housing developments that were disgraceful. They avoided at all costs the possibility of offending white people, for it was dangerous to do so. They made little eye contact with white strangers, and they definitely made no eye contact with white women.

Any Excuse Will Do

One of the paranoid claims made to justify treating blacks terribly was the idea that the black men were always planning ways to have sex with white women. As historical fact, many white men, especially slave owners, essentially raped black women with no real possibility of being charged legally. That is one of the big reasons that large percentages of blacks in this country have some white blood in them and many whites in this country have some black blood in them.

I’m living proof of that one, and you might well be too. You could find out with a readily available (and fairly inexpensive) DNA test. I believe that my 12% African mixture came from a great-grandmother “passing” as a Cherokee Indian, which gives me hope that I came by my racial mixture through a consensual situation. But most didn’t, shamefully.

By the way, it might be a good time to restate that my being 12% of African descent doesn’t mean that I understand the experiences of black Americans. I was raised as white. My knowledge of the viewpoints of black people in America is coming from my serious efforts to increase that knowledge, as I am asking you to do if you are white.

Just Stay in “Your” Place!

As I stated in an earlier article, the movie The Help was an accurate demonstration of what life was like for “coloreds” when I was growing up. They sat at the back of the bus, and always said “Yes Ma’am” and “Yes Sir” to white women and men. They were expected to come to your back door, not the front, and ate their food outside if they were working for you. Separate and quite unequal was the order of the day.

They were expected to be servants in almost every way. My father was a bricklayer, and all of the “skilled labor” workers were white, whereas the blacks were mostly the “common labor” who assisted them. More on that situation later as it related to me. They had no ladder of advancement to climb, at least in the South. It really wasn’t much different in most parts of the North, although there were some notable exceptions for at least certain time periods.

Much more could be added to this list, including many specific laws in various states that were totally demeaning to the black population and flagrant violations of our very Constitution. Their living conditions would be hard to imagine by younger people in America today, particularly white young people. But all of that was the order of the day, and fear for one’s life and safety kept blacks from crossing the line as it had been drawn by the white population. Of course, there were many wonderful exceptions of white people who were repulsed by the status quo, but they were a minority.

How Did Blacks Accept Such Injustice?

Most accepted it as simply inescapable, as their lot in life. The remarkable thing to me in looking back at the black men and women I knew was that they appeared to accept it with grace. They had to know about those of their race speaking out and writing about these injustices, but most of them didn’t respond with hatred toward white people. They had little choice about accepting their way of life, for otherwise they could not have made a living, such as it was.

I like to think that most found answers to their challenges in the Bible. During slavery days, the one escape they could often count on was attending church for a few hours on Sunday. This relief was combined with their soulful singing and looking to God for the strength to endure what they faced. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a black atheist. Religion was their only hope of a better life in the Great Beyond, and these men and women clung to it. Undoubtedly, some slave owners used the pulpit to further their own ends, but in the end, African Americans seemed inherently more religiously entuned than whites, at least to me through the years.

Still a Long Way to Go

By the time I was a young teen, the legal aspects of Jim Crow were winding down, but winding down very slowly. In the mid-1950s, the American Civil Rights Movement was beginning. Yet the practical aspects of those laws ingrained into the thinking of both blacks and whites were (and are) very difficult to eradicate.

That is why I love our church so much ─ our diversity. But the challenges in the midst of a nation still torn and divided by racial issues is a challenge for those of us in Christ as well. That is why I am so strongly pushing the idea of interracial discussions. By the way, our black brothers and sisters need to talk first and whites need to simply listen and ask questions for clarification.

Then it should become a two-way discussion as we share our perspectives, with an open mind to one another’s viewpoints. Parents have to provide a safe place for their children if they expect them to be honest with the true feelings. White folks have to provide that same safe place for our black brothers and sisters if we expect them to be honest with their true feelings.

Hence, the suggestion just mentioned how about how to approach the initiation of discussions that close the understanding gap. We are not as much on the same page in racial matters as outward appearances would lead us to believe, and the reasons are mostly ignorance and lack of communication. But by God’s grace, we can close the gap inch by inch until we are on the same page or hopefully close to it.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I do see light at the end of the tunnel. It has been a long, long tunnel, but with each generation, progress is being made. My hopes for many aspects of the future lie in our young people. Whatever evils the internet offers, it has also given our young people a global view. They are not confined to nor restricted by the views of the older generation, which is both good and bad. Regarding racial issues, it’s good.

I talk to black and white young people about race, and am encouraged. There is light at the end of the tunnel for them, and for us as well, if we will grasp it with God’s help. Most people of color have progressed away from relentless fear of outward harm (the fear of police being an exception for black males especially), but the attitudes as demonstrated through the concept of black tax is yet to change, and may never change in the world. It has to change in the church where it has not yet, leaving in its place trust and the lack of any type fear.

Again, Why Am I Writing?

As I write, it continues dawning on me that one reason I am writing lies in making an attempt to cleanse my own soul from what I observed and have learned about the racial struggles in our national past. I want to drink deeply of this passage about the church as Christ’s Body, and practice it fully: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (1 Corinthians 12:26). I want to understand and be understood; I want to help bear the burdens of my brothers and sisters, and I need them to help me bear mine.

We are one in Christ, and that oneness is not found in color and culture; it is found in heart connection through Christ connection. The world is a mess and it always will be until Christ comes and ends the nightmares. But the church for which he died is a beautiful thing by design, and dedicating ourselves to making it that in practice is a beautiful pursuit. Jim Crow laws were a curse (for blacks and whites) forced upon the inhabitants of the United States; Jesus Christ laws are a precious blessing to those in his kingdom, delivered only by his precious blood.

How Much Sad Background Information Do We Need?

I’m not quite sure, but I know I’m not finished with it yet. I admit that my need to purge my own soul is a part of it, but the need to help my white brothers and sisters feel the heaviness and horror of the past is real. I’m not trying to create sympathy or guilt in whites nor self-pity in blacks, but I am trying to help create genuine empathy in all of us, the ability to feel for another by feeling what others feel ─ as much as possible. If we are to “Carry each other’s burdens,” (Galatians 6:2), we must know what they are, and we cannot know without honest discussions.

Please do this: if you are a black disciple, initiate such a discussion (about your racially related feelings) this week with a white disciple; if you are a white disciple, initiate such a discussion (about this subject) with a black disciple. If they know me, tell them I asked you to do it if you think that might help. I would strongly suggest that you avoid allowing your conversation to slip into the area of current politics.

We need a starting place and we need it now. I talk to my black friends about these matters regularly, and I talk to total black strangers about them almost as regularly. Most of the time, I just ask questions. I want to know what others think and feel. I, along with nearly all of the blacks with whom I speak, see this as a HUGE issue. We must talk. Please join me. If we can enter into that discussion process, we will have started walking along a noble path. Until my next post…