February is African-American history month. Each year about this time I see notices from various loops about television programs that will be available during the month focusing on the contributions of our people to this great nation. I thought some about a conversation I had with a Christian African-American friend a few months ago. She was questioning whether or not she should teach her children our history as it is so tragic in places and can spark so many feelings of resentment and anger against whites. I’ll share my two cents:
This past week, we celebrated the first time in history that not just one, but two African-American NFL coaches have advanced to the Superbowl. Since one of them will win, we can also celebrate in advance that this will be the first time that a Black coach brings home “the big one”, so to speak. This week was also a first for the New York Giants, who promoted a Black man into a team management position, and a first for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who now have a Black head coach. A few months ago, we watched while, for the first time in history, not one but two African-American astronauts traveled aboard a spaceship. Having highlighted these accomplishments, I totally concur with Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy when he said that true progress will be made when these celebrations are no longer such significant events, but instead become mundane and even boring.
There were also moments that should shame us as a nation: in Cushatta, Louisiana, on last month, African-American students were forced to sit at the back of a school bus, even sitting in each others’ laps, while non-blacks sat at the front, often alone in seats. More recently, a predominately white college not too far away held a MLK party in which attendees wore lots of “bling” (big, gaudy jewelry for the hip-impaired), Afros, and were served fried chicken and malt liquor.
So, when I ponder all of this, it is no wonder to me that millions, if not billions, of dollars are spent each year on educating our children, both formally and informally, to be proud of being Black. Even the patience of Job could be tested by the barrage of images and actions that paint us as anything but equal and deserving of the same rights, opportunities, and privileges as anybody else who calls America home. This is not a victim’s mentality; it is a realistic statement from the heart of one who participates in this educational process (see www.blessedheritage.com), and one who is raising the next generation of me to not bow down to racist stereotypes.
So as Christians and African-Americans, should we teach African-American history? Absolutely. Not only must we share it with our children, but we must help where we can with teaching it to others. Similarly, we must learn histories that are not our own. Is teaching our children their history teaching them to hate? Absolutely not. In Deuteronomy 6, God tells the Israelites to pass down their history through generations; He does not tell them to hate Egyptians. We must educate our children on their history, not as a way of teaching hatred, but as a way of teaching the larger lessons of God’s law–love, forgiveness, and faith. That same faith brought us through a dark past and into an increasingly bright future. We must teach them their history in the light of Romans 8:28. We must also educate others, both formally and informally, in order to put a halt to racism (this is how they overcame Satan: by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony). Stop using the “N” word as it will never be a compliment. Treat ourselves as descendants of royalty, because that is what we are. In fact, Biblical history of 2007 years ago tells us what we all are, regardless of color: head and not the tail, above and never beneath, lenders and not borrowers, blessed in our going in and in our coming out, and more than conquerors. God bless you today and always.