Sometimes, it’s easy to feel like your small voice isn’t making much of a difference in this big, noisy world.
Sometimes, it seems like speaking up won’t accomplish anything (except maybe to lose you a few friends).
Sometimes, you have to do it anyway.
This afternoon I saw something on Facebook. A proud mother posting photos of her kid’s school presentation on a historical figure – typical newsfeed fodder, right?
But this was a photo of a White middle-school kid in blackface.
I gasped and I muttered under my breath. I got angry and I prayed about holding my tongue and my temper.
And then, I decided to hold my temper but not my tongue. Because sitting silently in the face of injustice, in the presence of disrespect, in the view of racism (yup, I said it!) is no better than engaging in injustice and disrespect and racism oneself.
Of all the character traits I pray that my children will grow to embody – and that I pray they will SEE IN ME – integrity is one of the dearest to my heart. Because integrity, I believe, locks all the others together. Peace, patience, kindness, goodness, love: each of them is undergirded and strengthened by integrity.
I know and love people of color. I would be horrified for any of them to sit in a school auditorium and witness a kid parade in blackface on a stage. What’s more? I would be horrified for my White children to witness that, too. Because I don’t want my children to think that the defining characteristic of that famous freedom fighter was the color of his skin. I don’t want my community to be one where showing up to a public school wearing blackface is acceptable.
So I said something.
I don’t know if the lesson deep at the heart of this will get through to that mother or that preteen. (SPOILER ALERT: THE LESSON IS THAT BLACKFACE IS NEVER OKAY BECAUSE BLACKFACE IS ALWAYS DEEPLY DISRESPECTFUL.) I have hope, though, that they or their circle Facebook friends will see my comment and stop to think. Maybe one heart or mind will change. But even if they don’t? The other lesson deep at the heart of what happened today was for me: speaking out about Wrong is always okay because it is always the Right thing to do.