With Father’s Day coming up, I thought about a gift of a t-shirt or coffee mug- you know the usual. But then things erupted around us concerning the issue of racism. I decided that the best gift I could give my dad would be my words.
To be honest, my dad was a train wreck in many ways. He would never have one an award based on being a father. These words will not come as a surprise, he knows this. We have talked about it and he has apologized and most importantly, many of those bad behaviors do not occur any longer.
But the thing he got right, like really nailed it- was race and gender. We will save the gender issue for another day but it deserves a mention here. Never in all my days growing up, and I spent a lot of time with him in the shop tearing down engines and helping him rebuild those engines (yes, me a girl knew an engine inside and out by the time I was 12), did I ever hear my dad judge a person based on skin color, ethnicity, or gender.
My mom tells the story of when they were first married she made a racist comment, probably one she heard growing up, and my dad told here never to say that again. He said that wasn’t allowed in our house. And just like that, my mom stopped.
This is why I say that because of him, I am not a racist. If it hadn’t been for him, I would have grown up just like the generations before me. I heard the word “n” word plenty and it always turned my stomach because of the bitterness behind it. But that word was never used in my home. I was never tempted to use it and I knew early on that it was not okay- even if people who I loved said it. That wasn’t allowed in our house.
Perhaps, what is a child hears in the home carries far more weight than what is said in the culture around them.
Or, what a child doesn’t hear. My dad and I never had a discussion about this. I learned from his actions and words- both said and unsaid.
He came from East Texas. He may have carried thoughts and attitudes of racism but he didn’t give them a voice and they died without light and air and recognition. I do not carry that baggage that he never handed me.
As I watch with repulsion the acts of racism, I feel a bit helpless. There are big problems in the world. How can I impact such a huge thing? Me, as one person, can’t actually do a lot on a national or global scale.
BUT, what I can do is decide what is allowed in our house. I raised four humans who do not judge a person based on their color, gender, or ethnicity. They, in turn will raise the next generation that know a human’s worth is not based on skin color or heritage or gender. If we all would focus on our own home, society would be fixed. If we all focused on our own home, the world would get better. Matters of the heart cannot be fixed with legislature. Matters of the heart must be fixed at home with Jesus.
That is another thing we did in our home- faith was central. No where close to perfect, but it gave me the foundation to build my life on the Rock and not the shifting sands of culture or society,
My dad was key in that, as well.
I am living proof that one person can stop racism from infecting the next generation, and the next one, and the next one, and on and on.
Thanks to my dad, I am not a racist.
Thank you Dad! Happy Father’s Day!