I have a couple of black sons, and much of my reaction to the issue of racism is influenced by my experiences when they lived with us. I know a single, black mother who attends church regularly and has shared some of her concerns with me. I hope, somehow, some of this will help explain why we need to be aware of even subtle racial messages - especially when they appear among us:
1) When you are the only black face in a congregation of white faces, you already feel isolated and alone in a very real way. You already are hyper-aware of and sensitive to racial issues. After all, some well-meaning members automatically start playing match-maker every, single time there is a black man with the missionaries on Sunday - (without fail and without exception).
2) Being "color-blind" is an illusion when the 6'7" young man sitting amid the short, pale, white family is dark black. As my son says, "You don't see color, you blind."
3) When you see a good young man cringe and reflexively look for an escape route every time he hears a police siren - simply because he has spent his entire life from the age of ten being targeted as a potential trouble maker as a large, black man . . .
4) When you hear a school teacher say, the very first time he meets you, not to worry about your son in his classroom - because, "I know how to handle these kids" . . .
5) It is eye-opening when you realize how you would react if someone told you that being white is fine for this life, since righteous white people will be black in the hereafter.
I could go on and on for hours - and my repertoire of examples comes primarily from only 18 months of raising a black teenager. I understand that racism is charged in instances where it doesn't exist, and I also understand that it is very possible to be overly-sensitive to possible racist statements, but I just don't accept any statement at all that says we don't need to do all we can to be aware of and eliminate anything that would cause reasonable people of any color to be offended by something that has racist undertones - intentional or not. I believe the tone we take must be civil and meek to be most effective, but this is one area where I believe we owe it to our children and others to eradicate one of the worst results of the Fall - the judging and belittling of our brothers and sisters based solely on race - even if we need to be vocal and confrontational to do so.