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A repost for Martin Luther King Day// Prejudice is alive and well

"I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls
will join hands with little white boys and girls
and walk together as sisters and brothers."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, as we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., I am reminded of how far we have come, and yet aware of how far we still need to go. Our adoption has brought these things into the forefront of our own family's awareness in the last year and a half. There is beauty in our experience, but great pain as well. But our hope rests firmly in this: that racial inequality and injustice face their demise at the foot of the cross, where, once and for all, Jesus conquered our stereotypes, demonstrated true love, and died for our sins of pride and hate. This repost from August of 2009 is in honor of that truth.

Prejudice is alive and well

My family knows that I hate to go to Blockbuster. Too many choices, and I am picky when it comes to movies. If I don’t see something I like right away, I go home empty handed.

So we usually send Joe. He’s more willing to take a chance and try something new. But when he walked in last night with the movie, The Express, with a credit on the back saying it won the “Truly Moving Picture Award”, I have to admit, I gave him a hard time. I shot him a pained expression and said, what is this, a Hallmark movie?? But two hours later, I was no longer complaining. It was a good movie, and touched on a subject currently close to home.

The movie tells the true story of Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman trophy. The setting is the late 50’s, early 60’s. Ernie gets recruited to play football for Syracuse University in NY, where he is one of only a few African American players on the team. And not just on the team, but in the school, and not just in that school, but in college in general. He deals with rude looks and sideways glances, not to mention some snide remarks. But it isn’t until the team has to travel south that you really see the odds he had to face during this pivitol time in America’s history.

The movie climaxes his sophomore year, when his team is undefeated and gets the chance to play in a bowl game. And that ends up being the Cotton Bowl, in none other than my home state, Texas, against the Longhorns. (which is where my loyalties end since I’m a Texas Aggie. : ) Anyhoo, I digress…)

I love Texas. I love being from Texas. We have the coolest history (six flags and all), and I have always been proud, wherever I’ve lived, to say I am from Texas.

But last night, I was not proud. Texas and its residents were a caricature of prejudice. First, Davis and the other African American players are not allowed into the main hotel and so must sleep in workers quarters. During the game, Texas fans sneer and yell and throw glass bottles and food as the team come onto the field. At one point, the coach tells the players not to take their helmets off, even if they are on the sidelines, to protect them from the flying debris. The Texas players were unnecessarily brutal towards Davis, and the refs obviously biased. The coach even repeatedly pulled Davis out, right before scoring, so a black man wouldn't score the touchdowns against Texas! He knew it could mean dangerous backlash for both Davis and his team. I understand this is a drama, but I also know it probably was not too far off the truth.

It made me literally sick to my stomach. How could we, as a state, as a nation, as human beings, be so shallow and arrogant and flat out evil? Why did we hate someone so much, just because they were a different color?

It would have been at least somewhat comforting if I could have told myself—but yeah, that was 50 years ago!! We’ve come a long way since then. But I couldn’t. Because just this week I had a relative tell me that if I adopt a black child, it will not really be my child, nor a part of my family.

I don’t think I’m na├»ve. I realize that interracial adoption has its dissenters. I just didn’t expect such hostility. From someone I love.

Was I hurt? More than I thought I could be. Does it change anything? No, not in the slightest. If anything, it strengthens my resolve because apparently there are still people who think race and color should designate separation, be it at water fountains or in families. That two that are different might be able to coexist, but cannot and should not mix. And if the gospel is true, then that is ridiculous.

I think Russell Moore says it best in his book Adopted for Life:

Everyone…, if in Christ, has been transracially adopted. [Those opposed to transracial adoption] are blissfully unaware, it seems, that what’s resting on them is the spirit of the antichrist. They seem not to comprehend that their own devotion to the flesh would disqualify non-Semitic folks like them from the promises of God. If Jesus agreed with them on adoption and race, they’d be in hell.

Moreover, despite what contemporary Christian artwork pictures, Jesus is a middle Eastern, Galilean Jew. The One you call Lord is a person of color, and his axe is already laid to the root of all of our family trees.(Matt. 3:10)

Does that sound harsh to you? To me it sounds true. As much as I love my relative, this part of their heart is ugly to me. And if I’m honest, it reminds me that my heart is dark as well, ugly with sin, undesirable to a holy God, and in need of redemption. Praise God, that in spite of my sinful state, He adopted me as one of His own.

So if Ernie Davis can have the courage to face all he faced (and I don’t even know if he knew the Lord), then certainly I---who "has not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and sound mind"--- can endure.

And if you are reading this, and you struggle with my family’s decision, and also say you know Christ, then I challenge you to search His Word for any indication that your hang-ups have validity. Because we're all mutts. And, like it or not, sisters and brothers. Family.



Jennifer said...

Great post! Thanks so much for sharing. I can relate first hand to comments being made by people you love. It hurts but I know that John and I are doing what God has called us to do and we can't even imagine our life without an Ethiopian baby. Hope that things are going well for your family as you adjust to having Abby home!

Renea Lynch said...

AMEN sister!!! I love this post and love your heart! At the mere mention of adoption from Africa some of my family darted! :( Something I dream of one day doing, and yet at the same time consider the level of love and affection a child of another race would be given by my extended family. Oh the pain. We've come a long way from the back of the bus, but still have a very long way to go before Mr. King's dream will be fulfilled and complete. Like you, I believe it will only happen at the cross. ♥

Christy said...

Love your quotes!!! DId you hear that Russell Moore is coming to Idlewild this year for Orphan Awareness Sunday? Pretty cool. I still need to finish that book.