OPINION: Prayers Against Racism

Thursday, November 15, 2018 || By ShaRhonda Dawson || OPINION || @maywoodnews 

Recently, there has been an uptick in racism and anti-Semitism in our community.  We are all aware of the dangerous racial rhetoric that came from the election of President Trump, but many of us, myself included, thought we were safe in our neighborhood from white terrorism.

However, the spree of recent local attacks, has proven me wrong. Hate graffiti was drawn on garages, someone wrote “nigger” on high school walls in a neighboring suburb, and even someone air-dropped the Nazi symbol to students.

I moved to Broadview because I wanted to give my children the “gift” of living in a “racism-free community.” I wanted my children to feel safe playing outside of their home, walking down their street or community without worrying about being called a nigger, among other things. I also chose Broadview because professionally, I work on social justice and racism, so I wanted a respite at home. I naively believed by moving to Broadview, my family, unlike so many of my friends, could avoid dealing with racism in our home community.

I naively thought living in Broadview would give my husband and I more time to delay “the race talk” and possibly avoid overt racism for our children. Like so many parents of color, I agonized over when to give my black children “the race talk” and I realize I can’t avoid it by moving to a certain community. Racism, is and always has been, in all communities in America. There is no community where we can isolate our children from dealing with racism.

There are many tactics to fight racism, like writing tips to navigate white racism or giving “the race talk.” But I don’t want to use those tactics. Instead, I’m going to use prayer as a tool to stop racism.

To my children, and all children in our village, I want you to know you are a child of God, divinely and perfectly created and here are my prayers for you.

First, I pray that you know, with every bit of your fiber, that you are a divinely and perfectly created child of God.  From the top of your heads to the bottom of your feet, you are beautiful and there is absolutely nothing about you that needs to change. The texture of your hair was chosen by God. God looked at all the beautiful shades of brown, and chose the perfect shade of brown for you.

My second prayer is that you are able to have a childhood. For much of history in America, black children were not able to just be children. So I pray that you have a racism-free childhood, which means:

1)   You can play in your neighborhood without worrying about neighbors calling the police because you look, “dangerous.”

2)   That you can have teachers and educators who see your genius and encourage you academically.

3)   That you never have to “role-play” how to stay calm when you are detained by the police.

4)   That you are able to make stupid kid mistakes and still be treated like a child.  Dear children, you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, it is just the opposite. Your childhood is your time to make stupid mistakes. That is how you learn and grow.

5)   I pray that instead of worrying about racism, you worry about normal stuff like homework, extracurricular activities and TV shows.

6)   That you feel free to explore and experiment with God’s beautiful creation without racial limitations. That you feel free to ride your bike in the forest preserve, swim or play at any park district, hang out with your friends outside and be able to freely engage with hip-hop. I pray that you are free to explore whatever interests you, like double-dutch, hand games and rap cyphers, without submitting to the pressure of the “white gaze,” or “respectability politics.’

7)   My last prayer is that you know that you not only covered with the blood of Christ, but the blood, sweat and prayers of your parents and your black ancestors whose spirits surround you.  You are not alone in fighting racism, your community is with you.

Lastly, I pray that God covers all the children in our community. I pray that our children have the innocent childhood they deserve, just like white children in America.   And, if or when, racism is able to penetrate our bubble of protection in our small community, that God gives us, the adults, the right tools we need to defeat racism and protect our children. VFP 

ShaRhonda Dawson is a resident of Broadview. She and her husband, Brian, have two school-aged children and their family enjoy spending time at local restaurants, libraries, and taking long walks in the forest preserve. ShaRhonda’s writings can be found on her blog, sharhondatribune.com.

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3 thoughts on “OPINION: Prayers Against Racism

  1. A Beautiful Prayer. Thank you. That is what it will take. The Blood of Jesus to cover our children and our community’s children.

    We must Never Forget Prayer and that trusting God is the Ultimate answer for every situation.

    We must all get on one accord and Pray. Again I say thank you.

  2. This was exactly the topic of the lecture by Dr. Hayes in the Catholic Church in the Austin area last night. While I wanted to support our young students at OPRFHS, I chose to be at that lecture because I so hoped to be educated more and be stronger, but peaceful, in resisting racism.
    ShaRhonda, I thank you, for talking about faith and racism too… Faith and racism can never coexist…

  3. Improving Until the “Dream” Comes True
    I was inspired by Dawson’s recent article, Prayers Against Racism, and the call to create tools to combat racism. I was also inspired by remembering Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “I have a dream…,”
    He said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
    Therefore, we must plan and take actions to make that dream come true for our children. One way we can do this is by accelerating the development of character in African American youth. If we are to makes progress, then at home and in school, we must accelerate the development of character in all our children.
    We have to acknowledge that there have been many mistakes by others when interacting with African American youth. But we also have to acknowledge that some African American youth have been caught in criminal situations by their own actions and lack of character. It is our dream that our youth be taught from an early age on about the value of good character in keeping them out of trouble. But, more importantly, that good character ends up with helping African American youth to have a better, yet fear free, wealthy life.
    Making excuses for their poor behavior and being soft with our children does not prepare them to be successful in business life. Few employers are going to hire or put up with lying, cheating, stealing, employees with poor character. In order to increase their acceptance in the workplace, African American youth should become known as honest and hard-working people of good character. This is not a matter of skin color, it is a matter of trustworthy character. It is also a matter of not listening to good-sounding excuses and lies but getting down to fundamental truths.
    If African American culture is going to improve until the dream comes true, then we must become more mature in our outlook and the way we think. When we curse others such as teachers and police, then we should expect our youth to become rebellious. Rebellious youth may get into crime and go to prison. Or, rebellious youth may drop out of school and miss all the benefits and the wealth that a good education brings. Thus, our youth will be better off in the long run if they are taught peace, honesty, and loving school. And then, we let God get the vengeance for any past or present injustices.
    At the United States Army Academy at West Point the Honor Code is, “I will not lie, cheat, or steal.” If this Honor Code is good enough for future military officers and leaders, it seems good for African American youth. Our youth should be saying to themselves, “I will not lie, cheat, or steal nor eliminate my future opportunities by doing so.” Thus, failure to teach good character at home and in school is one way of cheating African American youth out of many future opportunities for their welfare and progress. Hateful racists would like it if we continue to let this type of cheating happen.
    To prevent some of the problems, 40 eBooks were written. These activity books about character development were written in order to inspire and empower African American youth to achieve to their highest potential. These eBooks with African American hero characters may be downloaded January 1, 2019 at OP-SAFECHILD.ORG. At present, these eBooks on a variety of character development topics are free.
    Dr. Wylmarie N. Sykes, B.S., MS., MA., AM., M.S., PhD.
    CEO, Operation Safe Child

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