Lost Innocence

I want to share my experiences of racism with you. I realize many of my friends—especially the white ones—have no idea what I've been through. I might add they are mild in comparison to my husband's having grown up in the segregated south.  There is a season for everything, and now is the time. I hope my stories will help educate those who think racism is over or it isn't that bad anymore. I tried hard to protect my children from racism. I held off talking to them about it for as long as possible. Why? Because I hoped that they could keep their innocence.

I wanted to shield them from the cruelty and injustice of this world. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep them safe. No matter how hard I tried, the virus of hate would infect our lives. I am thinking about an event that happened to my daughter and me in 1991 while living in Colorado Springs. Imagine with me that you are an army wife visiting the library with your five-year-old. On the way to the children's section, you pass a white lady sitting at a desk, scrolling through microfiche.  Yes, this was before the internet. Fascinated, your daughter walks towards her, standing a few feet away watching. The lady turns around and glares at her, spewing hate from her eyes. "Ashley, come here," I said, waving my hand, signaling her to come to my side. The moment I put my arm around her, the lady jumped up and stormed toward us. “NIGGERS, NIGGERS, NIGGERS, I HATE NIGGERS," she shouted, pacing back and forth in front of us. I could feel the stares of people around us, as my heart raced. We were the only blacks there. I held my daughter tighter and prayed. There was no time to do anything else. It all happened so fast.  Ashley's face turned red as the white lady vomited horrible words. I watched hatred rob my daughter of her innocence.   My instinct as a momma bear was to cuss her out. Instead, God gave me the strength not to retaliate and speak His word to her. I prayed, taking authority over the demon of hate and racism. As I did, I felt this protective shield come over me that helped calm me.  "I feel sorry for you," I said, interrupting her rant.  She looked stunned while I continued to speak with kindness. To this day, I cannot recall what I said.  By now, the librarian had come on over trying to divert the lady.  I left quietly with my daughter. The excitement to find a children's book vanished. Plus, I needed to have the "talk" with Ashley about racism.  That night when I tucked her into bed, we talked about our day and what happened at the library. I told Ashley again that she did NOTHING WRONG. What the lady did was wrong. She was mean and hurtful.  We talked about how the lady's behavior was a sin. I told her that she had every right to feel angry. I knew she would need time to process her emotions.  Yet, I didn't want her to remain stuck there. When I mentioned that we needed to pray for the lady, Ashley said, "Mommy, I think God needs to send a white lady to pray for her." I saw the hurt in her eyes. My heart broke and I was mad.  I wished she never had to go through this. But I knew she would experience it again.  Why did I want her to pray? I did not want the spirit of hate to come on my daughter. Instead, I hoped to stop it in its tracks. And the only way I knew how to do that was to pray.

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