To piggy back off the recent quote by Publisher Roy Douglas Malonson “If I didn’t know no better and believed the image portrayed of Black folks, when I watch the 6 or 10 o’clock news – I’d be scared of you Negroes too”. I too experienced similar feelings, and even more. The incident involved me shopping late at a mall in a neighboring town. I observed a group of young black males glancing my way and then looking away. They were wearing the traditional teenage black male attire (nice tennis, well ironed jeans, slightly sagging, nice chain etc..) Engrossed in my new purchases I didn’t give the encounter much thought, but as I exited the mall I noticed that this same group of males were standing near the section where I parked my car. As I looked at them, it was at that point that I (even I) viewed these young men through the eyes of society. I’m ashamed to voice the thoughts that ran through my head. But nevertheless, I continued toward my car, when one of the young men looked up at me and began running toward me… Yelling “Hey, Hey … I froze. He kept coming full force toward me and just as he reached out to grab my hand, he called me by name. Needless to say I was on the verge of passing out. He was one of the youth that I had mentored over ten years before in one of our after school programs. He was happy to see me and share with me how well he was doing and how grateful he was for the help that I’d given him. I was equally happy to see him too.
Unfortunately, during the few moments that it took to bring the incident to a happy ending, I was truly frightened by the encounter. I know that we live in a society where caution and safety are important, but I want to impress upon us as African Americans that if we expect others to treat our African American youth and adults with respect we need to change our attitudes and our actions toward our own fellow African American youth and adults.
By way of defense of my inappropriate thoughts related to the incident, You may be assured that had I been in my hometown on my personal turf, regardless of the time of day “fear” would not have been my first response; because one investment that I have made into my community, is that of love and respect for all. I’m reminded of the reminder that Paul the Apostle gave to Timothy the new pastor “God did not give you the Spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.” I know that we are all challenged by the thought of letting go of our fears and expanding our horizons.
But, there comes a time when we must leave our comfort zone and embrace uncharted waters; reaching out in love and sharing that love with other people. It’s easy to love those who look like you, have the same values as you and share the same personal experiences and expectations. Sometimes these similarities are not even similarities shared among African Americans. African Americans have become such a diverse group of people. There are as many differences among African Americans as a race as there are among African Americans and other races. Wherein does the bridge lie? It lies in Love.
As a Christian Minister, I can only share with you the foundational love that God has given me, based not on race, color or creed but on grace. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” I’m not trying to turn this into a sermon, but one must know the source of the love that they are embracing before they attempt to share it with others. Believing that God loves me and that he has endeavored me with that same love, then and only then, am I able to truly love not only my fellow African Americans but all of God’s people with a nonjudgmental, non-condemning love. In case you error in your trying, the Bible reminds us that “love will cover a multitude of faults”, so go ahead, love like it’s no tomorrow!