“I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the Lord. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives.” (CEV) Isaiah 58:6-7
Racism, one of prejudice’s sinful tentacles, touched me in sixth grade. An older male student slapped me while hurling a racial slur. His friends stood by and watched. The stinging effect impacted each of us from varying perspectives. He gave, I received, and others observed. Believe it or not, our own children could be in one of those categories! How can we cultivate their hearts to fight racism without fear and anger? Here are two Isaiah 58-inspired thoughts that could prevent your children and mine from becoming a giver, receiver, or inactive observer of racism.
Equip Yourself with Friends
Prejudice and racism are sins that result in another great sin: injustice. Through Isaiah 58, God encourages us to speak up against injustice. “I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the Lord. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused!” (Isaiah 58:6). God wants us to fight against injustices. He reminds us that a true relationship with God includes human beings getting selflessly involved with one another. What better way to do that than by making friends!
I encourage you to befriend people of varying ethnicities. No one person can speak for an entire race. Having friends from different backgrounds will not make us experts on all things cultural. But our lives will become richer and our hearts more sensitive to struggles outside of our own. Most importantly, our children will witness how an authentic, organic relationship can develop and grow among people of different ethnicities.
Don’t Encourage Colorblindness
Let’s aid the fight against racism by refusing to paint those around us with the color and culture most comfortable to us: colorblindness. To say “I don’t see color” may seem helpful, but a person of color might hear, “I do not acknowledge everything that makes you you.”
Not being accepted because of the color of your skin is a wrecking ball to self-worth. Not being seen for part of what makes you who you are on the inside can do much more damage! Let’s teach children that recognizing and valuing racial and cultural differences is an important step to getting to know what’s on the inside of an individual.
Subtle moves can lead to normalizing the idea that we are not all the same.
Give our young girls and boys dolls and action figures with different skin tones and hair textures.
Read books with images of other races on the cover and stories of their history within the pages like Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson or Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.
God has created a great big, beautiful world full of all parts of who he is. Let’s take Isaiah 58’s advice. It’s amazing what God will do when we aid one another! It will change the future! Who we befriend, accept, and defend today will make a difference in who our children choose to befriend, accept, and defend tomorrow.
“Healing Racial Trauma,” a Jude3Project podcast
ColorFull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us, Dorena Williamson
Oneness Embraced by Tony Evans