I initially didn’t think anything of my behavior, but later as I was reflecting on my day, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to me about my behavior. “Why did you lock the door? You weren’t in any danger. That young man wasn’t posing any threat.”
I thought about what I did. How did I know that the young man was African-American? And why was my automatic response to lock my passenger door? As much as I would like to think that I am open-minded and not prejudiced, it was apparent that my fear of people who aren’t like me runs deep.
Recently, I was privileged to speak with a bright, articulate, young African-American male and I told him about my experience. His response was that he notices that people do that to him. “I get on an elevator and white women clutch their purses, like I’m some kinda thief. It’s really irritating. I dress professionally, keep good care of myself and am friendly but I get those kinds of reactions. It’s irritating and a bit angering.” With this young male was a young African-American female. She said that we were too hard on ourselves, that in both of those situations she would have acted as I did and how the ladies on the elevator did. She stated that it had more to do with being a female than fearing someone’s race. “I make sure that my purse is not on the front seat and my doors are locked when I am driving thru a place that has people walking, it doesn’t matter what their race or ethnicity is.”
Ok. Maybe we can excuse a woman doing those things but it doesn’t answer the nagging in my soul of why did I lock my door? It wasn’t locked earlier when there were people walking but when I saw this particular man, I did lock my door. I don’t remember thinking, “there’s an African-American male, I better lock my door so that I could be safe.”
Somewhere, buried deep within my subconscious, my mind perceived a threat and I wonder if my mind perceived that the threat was an African-American male. That’s the question I can’t answer. I don’t want the answer to be that I am subtly a racist but it makes me wonder.
I so much want all my actions towards others to be like Christ. So, in my conversation with the Holy Spirit, all I could say was, “I don’t know why I locked the door, but LORD, please purify me. Reveal to me my sin of racism. Cleanse me from anything that would represent oppression, fear, racism, elitism help me to be a holy representative of You."