Yes I Do Matter
For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.
Psalm 11:7 (NIV)
Often we see what the world wants us to see through the lens of mass media. The “truth” presented is often far from the truth, especially when it comes to race. What is it that makes people afraid of those who are different?
I grew up a military child and was often the only person of color in my class. It didn’t bother me, as I felt treated and accepted as one of the crew. I catch myself thinking, “I wish I were 8.” I don’t know why the age of 8, but I think it has to do with remembering everything as great, peaceful and good at that age. I was raised to be respectful and kind toward all people. My parents also taught me to be proud of who I am and of my culture.
My most eye opening racial event took place in 8th grade. We had returned to the United States from Mannheim, Germany. I had a slight accent, dressed differently and was told people of color didn’t become cheerleaders. I spent that year among people who had not grown up in a diverse culture. I had to learn to step back and look at different ways of understanding people without losing who I was as a person of color. The next year, we moved to Savannah, Georgia, and on the military post I never had problems.
I received valuable racial justice education at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a historically black university, learning self-awareness and pride, making sure I am valued and not ashamed. God has made us different and special, and celebrating and honoring one’s own culture does not take anything away from any other cultures. Appreciate the path God has created for you to spread God’s message of love. I still do not understand why my skin color affects people’s opinions of me.
The God I serve has shown me ways to strengthen my faith and belief that if we do our part in bringing awareness and respect to all beautiful shades of skin we are heading in the right direction. Let’s show the world that we can bring new ways of being racially just, that we are not afraid to have these hard conversations, even in so-called “mixed company.” Let us never say, “That doesn’t apply to me.” It does.
United Methodist Women, we are keepers of justice. So let’s get busy. Join me in celebrating Black History Month with pride. Read the Charter for Racial Justice, and share it with others. Read a book from the Reading Program by an African American author. Attend or host a program that celebrates the accomplishments of people of color. Visit the African American museum in your city. Use the United Methodist Women racial justice website: www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/racial-justice.
These are just a few ways to bring greater awareness and understanding of why racial justice is as important now as ever.
YVETTE KIM RICHARDS
United Methodist Women
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