In 1957 my cousin Jr. showed me his switchblade. He said it was “necessary to carry it on the streets of Detroit, Michigan.” I was only 7 at the time, and it made me afraid for my cousin. He talked about the African Americans of the city by using the “n” word and spewed (I can’t think of a word strong enough to describe it) hatred and violence toward them.
I didn’t know it then, but that was the last time I saw him. Shortly thereafter, he ran away from home.
The family searched for him, but had no luck finding him. I guess they all figured he was dead. Seven year olds just wonder about such things.
30+ years later his sister exclaimed, “We found him.” He was living in a mobile home in Charlottesville, VA, of all places. He was a grandfather with a plethora of kids.
It was joyful thought to me that my cousin was alive, that he got to speak with his dad on the phone before my Uncle died, and that I had a boat load of cousins living in Charlottesville, VA….until yesterday.
As the posted pictures scrolled past my eyes, I searched the crowd for young men that looked like they might be related. Frankly, I saw more than a few, and I had to stop looking.
It’s one thing to be disappointed that racism isn’t dead, but a completely different thing to question if your own family members could be wrapped up in the thick of it. I’ve heard enough of it from my own family to know the seeds for it are far from dead and buried.
I want to hide my face in shame, but that won’t help. So I speak out. I call my own family out. I refuse to let the hatred go any further.
As one of my seminary professors said while responding to an African American student pleading for justice, “The white community has to lay an axe to that tree themselves.”
Moments ago, the news streamed again. A car slammed into the protestors.
STOP! PUT DOWN YOUR WEAPONS AND FIND THE PEACE OF GOD. IN THE NAME OF JESUS – STOP!
Interim Pastor Neil Allen
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Pastor Neil Allen
I am blessed to serve as the pastor of Queen Anne Christian Church, an amazing community of wise and thoughtful people.