“Because he’s black.”

The first eight years of my life were lived on an Air Force base where there was a wide variety of people. My earliest memories of elementary school are of spending time with my best friends, John-John and Keith. John-John’s mom was Vietnamese and his father was African-American giving him wonderful patches of skin – swirls of tan and black pigment – I thought it was so awesome. Keith had as dark of skin as I have ever seen. And then there was me – glow-in-the-dark white. John-John was the athlete; Keith was the artist; I was the brain. We were quite a community – a trio of best friends!
When my dad retired from the Air Force, we moved to a new town that was overwhelmingly Caucasian. There was only one Black kid in the whole school. On the first day of school for me, recess found me playing in the sandbox. I knew no one. I felt alone. The only kid who reached out to me that day was another kid who felt isolated, Billy. Yep. Billy was the kid who was black. We enjoyed our time of imaginary sandcastles and bulldozers. We were the only two in the sandbox.
On my walk home that first day, some of the popular kids were walking in my direction. They wanted to let me know, “We don’t do that.” Do what? “Play with that kid.” I naively asked, “Why?”
“Because he’s Black.”
Prejudice and racism are taught. I know it firsthand. But antiracism can be taught as well. This Sunday, June 16, we will be celebrating Juneteenth. The celebration of Juneteenth is an American holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas, and more generally the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans throughout the former Confederate States of America. Its name is a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth”, the date of its celebration.
Rev. Dr. Toni Hawkins, our Southwest Conference Minister, will be preaching. It’s a can’t miss Sunday!
Shalom, Paul