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  • Writer's pictureBeth Bowman

One Less Racist

I remember only one white girl who wasn't racist in high school. She was on the basketball team- I don't remember if she was very good at basketball but I do remember that she was really really good at being a friend to everyone-white, black..didn't matter to her. I would say she was also friends with Spanish speakers or people who spoke Mandarin but hey, this was Ethel and there were only two colors of people, and some very distinct lines.

I wasn't raised to hate people of color but I also wasn't raised to hang out or get to know people who were different than me. I don't think this was as much as a deliberate attempt on my parents part to be racist as it was an accepted way of life in a small town in Mississippi. We had "our" churches-they had "theirs". We had "our" music and "they" had theirs. After all (and here's the ridiculous quote that is used even today), "They wouldn't like our kind of music or preaching or way of life." I didn't understand that sentiment then and I don't really understand it now. As if the color of your skin can determine your entire path for life-your interests, your music, and all of your choices.

That's the part of racism that divides instead of unites.

But there is a far uglier side of's when we take a negative character trait and assign it to all the people of the race. All __________ people like _________. I'm sure you can fill in the blanks with ideas. This type of racism leaves entire groups of people in tiny boxes, closed off and locked. This type of thinking is what stirs up hatred for someone you have never met because you make assumptions about them-based on an observation, or a comment or a quick judgement.

I believe God began to speak to my heart when we moved to Leake County 13 months ago. God began to convict me of the need to speak up where I had been silent. He began to challenge me to stand up against the tolerance of racism in Mississippi...and especially toward any racism among christians. Almost like a fact of life or a foregone conclusion, Christians are allowed in some circles to promote a cultural of separation and disdain toward other races. And we all tolerate it more than we should.

We are going to change a tiny piece of legacy for us here in Leake County. Tamara Williams Glenn (Carthage High School graduate) along with some others are going to be worshipping together on March 28th. This gathering is for women to get together with what unites us in Christ. The beauty of worshipping Jesus together--irregardless of race, ethnicity, denomination or background will be a legacy we can leave for generations to come. I can not wait to see how God works through an intentional, deliberate attempt to gather around the love of Jesus that unites us instead of our individual characteristics and preferences that separate us.

I don't know where the girl from high school is now, wherever it is-I am sure she is continuing to love people without limits. I pray that this will be the way I am remembered also.

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