It wasn’t until I was a freshman in high school that I found out I was considered “different.” I went to a Christian high school which was predominately white. It wasn’t until some of my friends had mentioned to me that I was the only “black” girl in the school.
I didn’t understand why they said that. What is a “black girl?”
They weren’t being mean at all; they thought it was cool.
I loved my friends, and they would’ve never purposely tried to hurt me in any way. They were good people and still are. They did not know, at the time, that I did not know I was considered a “black girl.”
I went home confused. I remember talking to my dad about it. He told me what they meant and why they said it. Let me tell you, it totally changed how I viewed myself. For the first time in my life, to other people, I was considered different. I even felt different.
I always thought I was just like everyone else. We all had eyes, ears, hair, arms. I never knew there was a difference.
To me, it didn’t seem so cool as they thought it was.
What I am thankful for is the fact that these high school friends of mine never treated me like I was different. That made an impression on me and I will never forget how special they always made me feel. To them I wasn’t their “black” friend. I was just a “friend.”
After hearing stories my parents told me of how they were mistreated at the hands of “white” people, I began to do my own research. You’re not going to find that type of real history in Christian textbooks today.
I would watch documentaries on things like the KKK, the civil rights movements and slavery. I wanted to know everything there was to know about racism in our country. I just couldn’t understand why “white” people hated “black” people so much that they would brutally beat and murder them just because of the way God made them.
Those things were impossible for me to hear and hurtful to watch. But we know, in the world, we can expect that type of hatred. It’s to be expected.
Anybody that knows my parents knows they have friends of all ethnicities. There is not one person that my parents would not have had come to church, or come to their house and eat at their table. They didn’t pick their friends based on their eye color, or skin color, or social status, or hair color, or physical handicaps. They loved and were friends with all people – not just black people.
What caused my parents to live like they did? Why did they love white people? After all, they had to deal with so much hatred from them.
One day my dad and I were talking about race and hatred. He told me that at one time in his life he had a hatred for “white” people so much because of how they treated him. But he said something that I will never forget and that made such a difference in my own personal life.
He said to me, “Terrie, after I got saved, God changed my heart.” He said that he had begun to see people as God sees them and love them as God loved them.
Wow! I admire my dad greatly for the example of Christ’s love he’s shown to so many. He could have easily taught us that we were better than white people, or any people for that matter.
He could’ve taught us to hate, but he chose to teach us to love. If anyone has lived I Corinthians 13, it’s that daddy of mine. I am so proud to call him my dad. I haven’t encountered many Christians who love like this.
Fast forward to my college years.
I went to an Independent, fundamental Baptist Christian college. This college was predominately white. There were Asians, Latinos, Chinese, and some Philippinos. There were about six black students.
I had a desire to be a better soul-winner, youth worker, bus worker – whatever I could do for God. I wanted to learn, so I could go back to my home church and use everything I was taught. I couldn’t wait.
I’ve never had trouble making friends. I was raised to be friends with people of all ethnicities. I lived it at college.
I was in no way prepared for what was about to happen to me.
I was accused of dating the “white” boys on campus- even though I was dating no one. I was told that I couldn’t even be friends with one, because he might end up liking me and want to date me. That would make the college look bad and forever ruin that young man’s life. I was told I would be “scum of the earth” if I dated a “white” guy.
I was always followed and watched by campus security. They would record anything that I would do that involved me and anybody “white.”
I was told that God would never use me effectively in the ministry. I was told to stay in my dorm room and only come out for classes and meals because “I’m just a trouble maker.”
I was told that God is against black people and white people mixing together. I was told to stop hanging around “white” people and to get to know “my own people.”
What would I say?
I knew the Bible says to love others. I was trying to do just that, but it was getting hard. How much more could I take? These people are Christians?
I was confused. I became depressed. I quit going to classes at times. I just didn’t want to hear the 100th lecture on how the black crayon is different from the white crayon and how all the crayons in the box are all different….wait, what?
I started hating who I was. I didn’t understand why the God I served and loved made me black just for people to mistreat me. These weren’t just any people. These were my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
I’d heard sermon after sermon where good men of God degraded black people from the pulpit. White Christians would “amen” them, laugh, and wave their Bibles in the air. I even saw some “black” Christians join in with them like they had no other choice.
Is this what Christianity is supposed to look like? I didn’t like these people. I wanted to go home. I began to doubt God. It seemed like he was only the God of the “white” people, not my God – a God who hated me and all “black people.”
I was angry, bitter, and full of pride. I had lost my faith in God.
Alone in my dorm room, I decided to study the scriptures. I needed to see that God loved me, that he was for me and people like me.
John 13:35 says, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” How could I love people who didn’t love me?
God reminded me that he is love, that he loved me. “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16
I began to think about these people who were against me for having dark skin. They were hateful, rude, arrogant – not Christlike at all. God commanded me to love them.
I wasn’t better than them. Their sin of racism was the same as my sin of pride, bitterness, and anger.
We were both wrong in our sin.
I asked God to forgive me, humble me, and to create in me a clean heart so I could be used by him. With God’s help, I would try to love them like He wanted me to.
It’s hard to love people that hate you.
It’s hard to be in a place where the majority is against you, and no one is on your side. It’s hard to be a part of the body of Christ and get treated like an outcast.
But everyday God strengthened me. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13 )
The more I read his word and listened to his truths, the more confidence I gained in his love for me. My focus had been on man. The Bible says, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” (Psalms 118:8)
I decided that day I would no longer be a victim, but a victor.
God helped me get up, get dressed, smile and keep going. My healing started when I saw my sin, and got my heart right with God. I asked Him to remove the pride, hurt, and bitterness from me and to restore my relationship with Him. “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalms 51:3)
I had many meetings with the staff.
In these meetings they wanted me to stand down and accept the fact that I was a nobody to them and God. They wanted me to retreat and hide or throw the white flag and surrender.
But I’d already told God that with His help, I would take a stand against this sin. I lost everything; my friends, status (I was no longer the nice little black girl).
I was even denied my diploma.
Standing against sin made me a “trouble maker,” a “reprobate.” I was constantly humiliated, made fun of, and the topic of many sermons. But I needed to stand. I was never rude or disrespectful, but I took a stand.
In one of my last meetings before graduation, I was summoned to meet with the president of the college. He wanted to talk to me about race. I did not want to have this meeting. But if the president summons, you go.
To be continued… (again, sorry:)