A couple of months ago, I was at an event with my husband. I was making conversation with a woman at our table. She asked me, “How is Grace doing in kindergarten?” Well-meaning and tenderly spoken, she thought she was making conversation. But she was met with my confused stare and an attempt to clean up her mistake when I said, “Oh, you think I’m Leah!” She apologized and said, “Oh yes, of course, I’m still getting to know everyone around here.” The problem is that we’d met a handful of times. And the other woman she confused me with—we look nothing alike. We’re just both Black.
Over the years, people have also said things to me like, “Why do Black people do _____?” Or, “Why do Black people say_____?” To which I sometimes do not have an answer, because I am not the spokesperson for my entire race.
Lies about Race
Two of the biggest misconceptions (and what I believe are lies of the enemy) in the conversation surrounding race are:
- All Black people look alike.
- All Black people think alike.
There are biases at play when people believe the two lies above. To say that all Black people look alike is to deny the creativity of our awesome Creator. God created each one of us in His image and said, “It is good.” I cannot pretend it doesn’t hurt when someone I’ve met several times or have an actual relationship with gets me confused with someone who looks nothing like me.
Furthermore, to believe that all Black people think alike is to assume that each Black person has a collective shared experience. This fails to recognize each person as an individual. And the sad truth is that we can do the same for other people groups as well. All you have to do is replace the word “Black” with “Asian” or “Hispanic” or another ethnicity in the two lies above.
The Truth About Race
There are many hard things about being Black, but I do not believe there is any merit in sharing stories in order to gain sympathy or to shame others. I find no merit in sharing stories that continually place a Black person as the victim and the white person as the oppressor.
There are already many stories woven through history to prove that point. These stories show us the unfortunate history of racism and prejudice in American society. We know racism exists. We know there are senseless acts of violence every day—some are even filmed and go viral. But we also know there are horrific acts of racially charged violence in little corners of the world that no one knows about. No one films them, and these names go unnoticed. So what do we do about all of this?
Our Desperate Need for the Gospel
The saddening and difficult part of race relations is that people’s beliefs surrounding race are so deeply rooted. There are blind spots on every side of the conversation. That is why we so desperately need the Gospel. It is the true source of hope in this broken world.
The Gospel tells us:
Each one of us was fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13–14).
Every part of our makeup matters, including our skin color (Genesis 1:27).
Sin has distorted God’s good creation, and no one is immune to the effects of sin (Romans 3:23).
God is perfectly just and cares about justice for the oppressed (Psalm 9:8–9).
Our God is a God of peace, not confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).
God calls us to be reconciled to Him through Jesus’ blood and to then be ministers of reconciliation in this world (2 Corinthians 5:18–19).
We are called to be peacemakers, reflecting Christ who has made peace with God possible (Matthew 5:9).
No matter your skin color, if you are in the family of God, you are called to be a peacemaker. You are called to stand for justice. You are called to speak the truth in love, even when it hurts and steps on some toes (Ephesians 4:15).
Kept by God
Here is what I know: I am a Black woman, married to a white man, mother of a biracial son and a Hispanic daughter. I have friends with varied skin tones. But the most important part of me is Jesus. He leads me and calls me His own. So if I have a problem, a hurt, or a fear, I take it to Him. When I am burdened by the violence and hate and brutality, I bring it to Him. When I am afraid for my children, He soothes my worries and my pain.
My heart may be weary and burdened, but my soul is kept by God (Psalm 121:5). And He loves every single part of me. My family is the family of God. And while they may be bruised and battered and splintered and broken, I find hope in the presence of my wounded Savior. He bled for me and made a way for me to enter into His peace, knowing that one day He will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4).
Meet the Author
Jessica Mathisen lives in Athens, Georgia with her husband and two kids. She is a recovering perfectionist, a former teacher, and a lover of people. Her passion is to communicate God's love to others through writing and relationships. She is passionate about sharing the love of Jesus as a foster mama and through serving in various local ministries. Her most favorite things are hanging with her family, eating chips and salsa, and reading good books.