Racism. It is a poison that kills society; a generational curse that, somehow, we haven’t been able to break free from.
The events around the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this past May 25th are still echoing the urgent need to address this issue as individuals and as communities. I thought today I would share with you one experience of racism my dad and I lived a couple of years ago here in Canada just for being brown Latinos.
My family, my parents, and my extended family were camping in a lake in British Columbia. One day, and for no reason, two young men started insulting and verbally abusing my 70’s year old dad, wanting him to get out of the campground. When I noticed that my dad was nowhere to be seen for a while, I went to look for him. I found him being bullied by these two guys, just because he “looked” Arabic (I think I do too), and because he spoke in a different language (Spanish). I can’t remember exactly what they said, but they were referring to his look and accent. When I found him and saw what was going on, I have to confess I was livid. Dozens of thoughts crossed by my head. “Bring it on, let’s go and resolve this outside,” was one of them. But, in that precise moment, the Holy Spirit came to me and gave me the boldness to fight this injustice with courage and words that just “came” to me. I confronted the behaviour of these two guys, even when another by-stander offered his help to beat my dad and me up. I called it as it is, hateful racism. I took my dad with me, and we brought the situation to the campground manager, who then gave these two guys the boot. After that, I brought my dad to a cabin with my mom, and we prayed to God, asking to come and rescue us. In a safe country, for the first time, I felt in danger.
We felt humiliated. However, we decided to forgive and ask the Father for help. The Lord provided that help. That same day, the parents of who was by then my brother-in-law showed us that we are not alone in times like that. The Lord moved them to accommodate us in their house nearby so we could be safe that night.
I still remember the faces of those two guys in British Columbia. I never knew their names, and I don’t care anymore. To me, their names were hate and racism, and both always go hand in hand.
My prayer is that, as the church, we would speak up in these times and speak against injustice, hate and racism against anyone who has a different skin colour, ethnicity or a different accent. To seek the Kingdom of God and its justice is to defend life always. It is to fight hate and racism with our voices, with prayer, and with Christian action. Even the smallest candle can disperse the darkness.