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Racial Tension and The Spirit of Fear

About a year ago, my husband and I had a very intense conversation about our future children. We had talked about having kids before- you know, about how we would like to raise them. As we will be a diverse family, I want our kids to know about their multi-cultural and multi-ethnic background. I specifically want them to grow up having a firm grasp on their racial identity.  But this conversation was sparked by something a little more ominous than just wanting to voice our hopes and dreams. This conversation was sparked by the verdict over Michael Brown’s death, in Ferguson, MO.

We watched a live stream of the verdict announcement together. My heart broke as the news repeatedly showed images of Michael’s mother, Lesley McSpadden. I could only imagine the turmoil she had been through, losing a son early and being left with so many questions unanswered… I saw her tears and lifted up a silent prayer. Later that night, I wondered aloud, “I’m afraid that that could be us someday… I don’t want that to be us, or our child! How will we raise our kids to avoid that?”

In the ‘safety’ of our living room, I felt more vulnerable to the evils of this world because of the color of my skin; more so than I ever had in the midst of a discriminatory encounter. It was the unanswered what-if’s that had me paralyzed with fear- a fear that had slowly been accumulating within me as the media began to cover more stories of police brutality against people of color. I began to make all of these haunting what-if’s known to my husband that night, and I wondered how people of color who already had children faced this fear. When I couldn’t talk anymore, my husband grabbed my hands and said something I will never forget:

“We pray, and we raise our kids to walk with the Lord. We raise them to walk in the Holy Spirit, and to seek Him in all things. We teach them what to do in an encounter with the police, And we do our best to trust that God will speak to them in that moment of uncertainty, knowing that He is with them in all things. We don’t need to walk in fear, remember who we hold our hope in. God’s got it.”

Of course, this is easier said than done, but my husbands words stopped my worry and shifted my focus. Instead of looking at all of this worlds evil and living in that fear, I have the option to look towards my God and live in His love and hope. Now, in times where I find myself struggling with this fear, I am reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (NKJV)

I was most recently reminded of this verse as I watched social media erupt with the news of  Ahmed Mohammed; A 9th grade muslim student who was arrested after his teachers suspected that the clock he built at home and brought into school was a bomb. The first picture I saw of Ahmed was that of him in handcuffs with this incredulous look on his face. Regardless of religion, my heart went out to him and his parents. I wondered if his mother felt that same fear… And I wondered about the people that America has racially and religiously stereotyped since 9/11. How many are fearful to send their kids to school in light of this?

We are living in a very racially tense time here in the United States. While I believe that prayer and diverse conversation around race and culture is the only way for our country to really make progress in this area, it is easy to be sucked into the dark depths of the media’s portrayal of racial issues. Whenever my sweet babes do arrive on this earth, I pray that I whole heartedly live in that spirit of Power, Love, and a sound mind.

How do you handle that spirit of fear in light of today’s emphasis on racial tension in our country? We’d love to hear from you!