When my father retired from the United States Naval Military we moved to a small town just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. For the first time in my life I was actively exposed to civilian life and the diversity therein.
I absolutely adored my third grade teacher. She was intelligent and open and animated when she educated. She always had a smile on her face, a warm and ready hug and word of encouragement. I never wanted to leave class for any reason. Imagine my surprise when coming in from recess one day and I found her in an foul mood. Her smile twisted into a look of fury as she approached the chalk board with a piece of chalk and a chalk eraser.
On the board was the word N-i-g-er. “Class,” she began while underlining the word on the chalkboard, “does anyone know what this word is?” Amongst giggles and whispering behind hands my classmates shifted in their seats. Some looked guilty, ashamed, embarrassed and angry. I merely shrugged my shoulders perplexed. No one volunteered an answer and Mrs. Nelson, a woman of color, began to educate us on the word.
“One, this word is misspelled, if you are gonna call someone out of their name in written form, don’t show your ignorance twice by misspelling!” She then wrote the correct spelling, N-i-g-g-e-r and erased the previous spelling.
And as she wrote she explained, “There is much to learn about the word Nigger but for today I will tell you this, it is an insult for a person to be called Nigger and for the most part it is applied to black people from the days of slavery because slaves were brought to America from small villages; some near the river Niger in Africa. In my classroom we are all considered equal except for the ignorant person who wrote this on my chalkboard.”
She then erased the board and didn’t say another word about the incident. But I could sense that my favorite teacher would never be the same in the way she handled our class, that light seem to leave her eye and the joy she expressed to see us everyday faded just a bit. After this day the open arms and ready smile were not so easily found.
Oddly enough, I felt that same way as though someone had trespassed against me by insulting her. I loved my third grade teacher from start to finish and learned a valuable lesson that day. The written word cuts deep.
Four years ago we Americans voted in a President of color, the first President of color for our nation. A member of the KKK approached me asking, “Did you ever think a Nigger would one day be president?!” They continued on about how America is falling apart at the seams all because greedy English stole Africans and imported them here to make life better for themselves.
I was too outraged to respond immediately to their monologue. Their reaction hit too close to home for me and immediately brought to mind my favorite elementary teacher Mrs. Nelson. It brought home to me that interracial couples in the 1940s were arrested for marrying and many left the country to do so in countries more accepting of diversity. I recalled the Civil Rights movements and the sit ins my older brother participated in endorsing desegregation in the public school system.
In my minds eye I could see the old oak tree just down the road from me still standing where men of color were hung by the neck until they died for looking at a caucasian woman sideways. And I was reminded of all the precious friendships I had lost when the movie “Roots” came out and my friends of color hated me because I am white.
My only response, “Were it not for the fact that I am a peaceable person I should punch you in the mouth.” I left them standing with mouth wide open waiting to catch flies.
Last night Americans have given President Obama another opportunity to finish what he began four years ago. Last night this same person was so outraged they spouted off about Americans uniting in a revolution.
I see things completely different, it doesn’t matter the color of our President, teacher, preacher, store clerk or partner. What does matter is the spirit of our intentions.
In recent months my face book page has been cluttered with all sorts of insults, slurs, false accusations and offensive photos from people who claim to be American and Christian.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14
Yeah, it is past time for Americans to humble themselves, to lift their moral standards and honestly serve in capacity of Christian and for those of you less educated folks the definition of a Christian:
“This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
And for those that do not follow scripture:
Christian= Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
According to my faith:
“4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”1 Corinthians 13:4-7
A more secular version would be:
Love= a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
Because I am spirit born unto this world in flesh I abide by the teachings of the Christ therefore I do not feel love but am love and this is where I believe Christians fall short. According to the teachings of my faith Love is an action not a feeling.
It is important for Christian Americans to embrace what we are served and rejoice in it. No grumbling or whining or threats of a Revolutionary war will conquer what ails our country. If we would humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways and seek God, He will hear from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land. Today is the perfect day to study on this directive and apply in action just what we as Christians are commanded to do.
by Susan Louise Davis