I am writing today from my beautifully multi-cultural church in the Tampa Bay area.
Donald Sterling’s phone call has brought back some memories.
The spring of 2003 found me driving from my Fort Worth home to see my sister in Tennessee. I stopped for the night in Monroe, Louisiana. The next morning I stopped at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop in Vicksburg, Mississippi. As I walked in, all eyes were glued to me, and were staring me down. I checked my zipper. Everything seemed to be okay. I walked up to the counter and smiled at the lady at the cash register, but she only glared back at me. I wiped my face. I must not have rinsed well after shaving. I cheerfully ordered my two chocolate cream filled doughnuts just like I did back home. I love Krispy Kreme’s cream filled doughnuts. Its actually cream, like all doughnut shops used when I was a kid, instead of that yellow junk they call cream now. Only a few of you will even know what I am talking about. But I digress. My cheerful order was not met with a cheerful smile. The lady very matter of factly gave me my donuts, made change and glared at me as I smiled back and said “Thank you!”
As I turned around, I saw all the customers were still glaring at me. I smiled back at them and they only glared back at me. That is when I finally noticed something I had not noticed before. I was the only white person in the store. Everyone else was black. My first reaction to that realization was, “You’ve got to be kidding me! This is so 1964! It’s 2003 people!” I came within an eyelash of making a grand speech but thought better of it. My church back in Fort Worth was a multi cultural church with several different nationalities. (Notice I did not say races and I will tell you later why.) Not only at church, but also at UPS where I worked, I have black friends, white friends, Hispanic friends, and everything in between. And I don’t know if Donald Sterling would approve or not, but I took a black friend to several Dallas Maverick basketball games. Wait, or did he take me? I don’t remember. All I remember is we would go and have a great time, eating at the Spaghetti Warehouse in the West End and then making our way a few blocks down to Reunion arena to see the game. One time we were watching warm-ups and I noticed a new guy I did not recognize. He had his warm-up suit on so I could not see his number. I had no other way to identify him, so I asked my black friend, “Hey who is the white guy?” My friend replied, “That is Scott Brooks. He just joined the team.” Then my friend laughed and said, “Wow I have never heard anyone say “who is the white guy before?”
So there I stood being stared down by the black customers and workers at Krispy Kreme, in Vicksburg Mississippi. As I said earlier, I came within an eyelash of stopping and announcing to them that “It is not 1964 anymore. It is 2003, and back in Fort Worth Texas we are all friends now, and we can all be friends here too if you want.” However I would have been very willing to be friends with them back in 1964 too! Well, wait a minute. I was not born until 1965. But you get my point.
A friend explained to me later how deep the pain of racism goes with the black people in the south. After all, Mississippi is where you had terrible things happen to Emmitt Till and others. This is what divides the blacks from the whites. Well I have something that is just going to blow your mind then. While Emmit Till was black and I am white, I am the same race as Emmitt Till! That’s right! I am the same race as Emmit Till. That is why I can relate and identify with him and his pain. This is why his story crushes my heart and makes me angry! I am the same race as Emmitt Till. Emmitt was a member of the human race and so am I. The Bible only recognizes one race, the human race. We may have different colors and different cultures but we are all one race. What happened to Emmitt Till was not a crime against black people, it was a crime against humanity. I share Emmitt’s humanity and I share his pain.
I have watched documentaries on the History Channel about white supremacist groups that have split up because the members could not get along with each other. So in the end, they did not hate just black people. They hated everybody. Their issue was racial alright. Their issue was with the entire human race. Hate is just as unconditional as love. You can learn to love everyone or you can learn to hate everyone. I choose love. Its a lot more fun.
Two thousand years ago God took on flesh. See John 1:14. He did not just take on Jewish flesh. He took on human flesh. Jesus represented the entire human race when He went to the cross to crucify human flesh.
He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Romans 8:3 NLT
Christ represented the entire human race. ‘Red and yellow black and white all are precious in His sight.”
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile….. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28 NLT
Yep so there you have it. When I heard Donald Sterling say, “Don’t bring that black guy to my games” What I heard was “Don’t bring that human being to my games.” If you don’t want humans going to your games then what do you want? If I separate myself by race from black people then I am separating myself from the human race, and even more fatal, I am separating myself from Jesus!
If I have it my way, we can all ( red, yellow black and white) go to Krispy Kreme together, and basketball games together. Oh, and lets all go to heaven together too! I think our only Father would love that!
And hey Darwin, I know you are busy after moving your practice from Dallas to Orlando, but give me a call. I would love to take you to a Mavericks game in Orlando and hang out again. I know we are far now from the West End in Dallas, but Chuys will work just fine.
You may study this week’s SS lesson here.