Normally when I write, I poke and prod more than I rant and rave. As I write, I try to consider the person who disagrees with me because I want my words to build bridges. To help those reading figure out the next right thing.
But every once in a while, I write with a different person in mind. I write with my favorite faces in mind. I write from the deepest place of love that I can muster. Love that compels me to speak out on behalf of those I love. When I write from this place, my writing can only be composed from words of anguish. Words of urgency. Words of bold conviction.
Today, as you read my words I hope you will hear my anguish. Sense my urgency. Hear my conviction. Because for me, this article is intricately woven into the make-up of my family.
The faces that are in my mind as I write this time are my Black husband, my Black daughter, and my Biracial son.
Ms. Abby Johnson was the Republican National Convention Speaker on August 25th who spoke on the sanctity of human life. She was a former Planned Parenthood Director and has since become a Pro-Life activist. Ms. Johnson, however, posted a video on YouTube in June of 2020 that came under scrutiny. The video has since been removed, but sources state that Ms. Abby Johnson explained that the police would be “smart” to profile her biracial son (via adoption) because statistically her Brown son is more likely to commit a crime than her White son.
Ms. Johnson and I are both Pro-Life, White mothers of children of Color. But let me be perfectly clear, I completely and ardently disagree with her belief that my children should be racially profiled by police and seen as more likely to commit a crime than their White counterparts.
To have that untrue and racist stereotype, not just believed by a parent, but actually endorsed by a parent is something that I struggle to wrap my mind around.
If my daughter were blonde hair and blue-eyed, would I say that teachers are right to profile my daughter as a dumb blonde? To assume that she’s less intelligent before she has even opened her mouth? I thought everyone agreed a long time ago that “dumb blonde” jokes weren’t funny nor were they accurate. In this case, I would immediately call the school and figure out what that particular teacher has against blonde hair/ blue eyed students to say such preposterous things? So tell me why in the world would a mother play into an even greater, horrific, and tragic stereotype to assume that her Brown son is more likely to commit a crime than her White son?
Some will counter back with “well actually she said…” and try to explain away the horror of her statements. Actually she said that she assumes her Brown son is more likely to commit a crime simply because of his skin color. Ms. Johnson referenced and erroneously believes that the disproportionate numbers of Black and Brown men in the justice system are there because they are guilty. She assumes that there is no other reason for Black and Brown bodies to be oppressed and jailed than guilt.
She is ignoring major essential elements such as bias in the judicial system, bias in police officers, bias in the people on the jury. Or, even if we disregard the huge issue of individual bias, she has also ignored the systematic reasons, such as the laws that have been passed allowing greater sentences to Black and Brown individuals than White individuals for similar or identical crimes. In a quick google search, I uncovered many articles and sources stating that racial injustice in our judicial system exists. Here’s a couple of introductory headlines for you to consider. (I did a Google search for the sake of this post to show how easy it is to find credible resources.)
Black men who commit the same crimes as white men receive federal prison sentences that are, on average, nearly 20 percent longer, according to a new report on sentencing disparities from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC). … A 2014 University of Michigan Law School study, for instance, found that all other factors being equal, black offenders were 75 percent more likely to face a charge carrying a mandatory minimum sentence than a white offender who committed the same crime.
Article linked here.
African Americans are burdened by a presumption of guilt that most defense lawyers are not prepared to overcome. As a result, African Americans make up 47% of exonerations even though they are only 13% of the population. Innocent Black people are about seven times more likely to be convicted of murder than innocent White people, and Black people who are convicted of murder are about 50% more likely to be innocent than non-Black people convicted of murder.
This info can be found on the Equal Justice Initiative’s website, linked here.
(For further examples, articles, etc… I would encourage you to start your own Google search.)
We don’t get a “free pass” for having racist ideology as long as we acknowledge life begins in the womb. The two do not cancel each other out. When our kids disobey, we don’t let them get away with telling us, “But Bobby hit Sarah at lunch!” We all know deflection when we see it in our children. So why do we deflect as adults? Sin is sin and shouldn’t be justified, explained away, or swept under the rug because a personal viewpoint makes a different sin “bigger.” God cares about the unborn child equally as much as he cares about the born child. It’s time that Christians in America start acknowledging and acting on that truth as well.
As I read Ms. Johnson’s words, my body grew rigidly tense from the sorrow her words brought, the anger at the blatant lies and slander being promoted, and the horror in knowing those words will provide further support for authoritative systems, as well as American citizens, to continue the brutal and often deadly interactions with Black people in this country.
I know those words are genuinely believed. Not only by Ms. Johnson, but also by some men and women who live near my family. By some police officers that might one day pull my son or daughter over while they are driving. By a teacher who might be my child’s first class of the day.
Her words remind me that my children are not safe. Not in the same way that White children are.
My children will still have to be on guard. Be extra cautious. Do the extra work to disprove the stereotype to stay alive.
Beyond all my shock, grief, and anger stemming from Ms. Johnson’s words, however, I am equally, if not angrier with the leadership at the Republican National Convention.
Shame on you.
You invited a speaker, who a mere two months ago, promoted wrong, erroneous and dangerous allegations against men and women of Color and then acknowledged and stands by those words?
We know that the speakers are heavily vetted. We know that the RNC was well aware of her video. We understand that your decision to invite her to speak, knowing her beliefs on racial profiling and therefore racist stereotypes, was - by all ways that matter- an endorsement of her beliefs systems. At National Party Conventions, you don’t put anyone on a national stage and expect people to only listen to and believe the words they are speaking in their few minutes of air time.
Shame on you for brazenly endorsing the belief system that it’s ok to judge someone merely by the color of their skin before interacting with them.
Shame on you for boldly declaring racism via racial profiling is justified.
Shame on you for hosting a pro-life speaker who does not understand that her racial beliefs contribute to the culture that allows the innocent and unjust killings of life outside the womb.
Republican National Convention, shame on you.
One night a few weeks ago, our daughter called out shortly after I had tucked her in. “Momma!”
We have experienced some life changes recently and our kids always take a little bit of time to adjust to the new normal. For our daughter, this meant she had started waking up throughout the night. We had been dealing with this for a couple of weeks, and so on this particular night, I responded to her through the monitor and simply said,
“You’re ok. I can see you. Lay back down.”
To my shock, she laid down seemingly content with my answer.
Around 15 minutes later, I heard a sleepier “Momma!”
I responded, “You’re ok. I’m here. I’m watching you.”
Again, she seemed content.
Around 10 minutes after that, I heard a sleepy, “Momma…” This one was less forceful. It was almost just like she wanted to check-in with me one last time…
I responded again, “I’m here. You’re not alone. I can see you. I love you.”
After that, she was at peace enough to drift off to sleep. I somewhat smiled to myself as I realized she just needed to know she wasn’t alone. That her parents were keeping a close eye on her.
A couple of days later, during my quiet time, I was journaling about how I had been struggling a little bit with gearing up for the semester, the changes that it was bringing with Aaron going back to work, and the stress/chaos of everything going on in our lives at that time.
And then, it was as if I heard God whisper…
You’re ok Holly. I am here. You’re not alone. You can't see me in this darkness, but I’m watching you. I love you.
In that moment, just like my daughter a couple nights previously, my soul quieted. I was content.
My Heavenly Father knew exactly what His daughter wanted that night.
I simply needed to be reminded that I wasn’t alone. He was keeping a close watch- even when I couldn't see Him.
So my friends, let me whisper that to you tonight. Whatever you are walking through. Whatever circumstance is keeping you up at night. Whatever is making you cry out to the Lord… Listen for His whisper of reassurance:
I am here. You’re not alone. I’m watching over you. I love you.
Genesis 16:13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."
I’ll never forget holding Eliza in my lap one night reading her books with a singing competition on tv in the background. As a Black female contestant started to sing, Eliza paused what she was doing and sat entranced. I watched Eliza staring at the young woman, and the same thought kept coming to mind, “It’s true. Representation matters.”
I am only three years deep in this journey of finding role models who look like my children for my children. As I mentioned before, Eliza notices every single time there is a little girl who shares her skin tone and her beautiful curly hair. This past week, we were reading a book and she innocently asked me, “Where’s me?” In this particular book, there wasn’t a girl who mirrored Eliza’s reflection. It hit me in my gut. Every book we read, she is looking for herself.
Isn’t that what we all do? I loved to read as a kid and teenager. In every single book I read, I always pictured myself as one of the characters. We all want to be the heroin. The kid who makes good decisions. The kid who goes on the adventure. The kid who saves the day.
Yet for my beautiful Black daughter, she is already realizing that often the world won’t give her the heroine role. All too often, the world doesn’t give little Black girls and boys roles at all. My son and my daughter will have to forge their own roles in the stories they read and play.
Before we ever had kids, I remember my husband and I starting to talk about the truth that representation matters. We had moved from a predominantly diverse area of Houston, to an area of Texas that had an obvious majority of white people living and attending the school we were at. Sadly, it took me until that point in my life to start to recognize what People of Color have been stating for years. Representation matters.
Representation matters. But here’s the lesson that I took way too long to realize through all this. Not only does it matter for POC, but it also matters for white America.
Here are some action steps that Aaron and I have taken in the past and are continuing to take now to better ensure that our children are raised with the understanding and the focus that representation matters.
1. We started becoming deliberate in bringing diversity into our collection of books, tv shows movies, toys etc... do we see POC represented as the primary lead? Are those characters portrayed in a positive light?
2. We are extremely purposeful with who we follow on social media and the podcasts/sermons we listen to. (This has been especially huge for me personally.) I’ve started following a lot of pastors and authors of Color. I have learned tremendously just by seeing what they post, what they recommend, what they perceive. This has helped me recognize systematic racism and prejudice in our everyday life. Brian Lorritts, Jackie Hill Perry, Preston Perry, Eugene Cho, Dr. Tony Evans, Latasha Morrison, and Jemar Tisby are a few of the individuals I would recommend following.
3. We are purposeful with having a diverse friend and acquaintance group. Obviously, we all have our friends that we’ve known forever, but moving forward are we getting to know people who look different than us? We’ve been reminded how huge this is- especially for our kids to see us being friends with different ethnicities and races. This will help them separate the stereotypes that they mostly see on tv with real people they have laughed with, seen their parents go deep with, and have had in their home. This will help children and parents alike to believe the stories of POC and hear the daily occurrences of racism that still happens.
Let’s push towards the world that our children’s aptitudes are not determined by their race. Let’s push toward the world where success is not an expectation of the privileged and a surprise for those who aren’t. When representation matters, each child meets an older version of themselves which gives life to dreams beyond what they have seen.
Representation matters. In our society. In our churches. In our homes. Let’s write stories for our sons and daughters where each and every child has an important role. Let’s move to the world that reflects the story of equality that God wrote for each of us.
About Holly's Blog
Holly loves to write, and you'll find her blog covers all different topics!