One summer day, I vividly remember picking up my 4-year old daughter from preschool and she said, “Mommy, so and so, told me I couldn’t play with her today because I’m black.” You can imagine the shock and disbelief at what I was hearing from my 4-year old who was attending a Christian preschool. The school was predominantly white in a small, rural community in Mississippi. I was quickly scrambling to figure out how I was going to explain this in the correct way. I never imagined having to have “that talk” with a four-year old. Somehow, I explained God created us all uniquely but His love for us is all the same. We should love and play with everyone regardless of the color of his/her skin.
At that moment, the seed of racism and prejudice was planted into my daughter’s heart. My child had her first thought that she was ‘different’ and ‘not good enough’ to play with her friend. The frustrating part was that seed was planted by a child that had been told and taught at an early age that skin color is what defines us.
If you fast forward a few years, these same misconceptions, perceptions, faulty beliefs, negative thinking patterns become our norms and what is accepted in school, the work place, churches, our communities and the world.
As parents and grandparents, what are we teaching our children? What ideals do we value? What actions do we teach them? As teachers, what are we saying (or not saying) in the classroom and playground? As employees and professionals, what values and preconceived notions do we hold on to? What do we share in the break room or with our colleagues during lunch? As pastors and church leaders, what do our actions say of being inclusive and embracing all people?
We all have a role to play in making sure we are not feeding the monster of evil, hate, discrimination and racism. That is a small step we can take to make our communities more inclusive and the way God intended for them to be.
~Coletta Jones Patterson
*Coletta is a life coach, business executive, author and speaker who is passionate about helping others reach their greatest potential. Connect with Coletta at firstname.lastname@example.org.