I grew up in a small college town near Cincinnati, Ohio. I was recently searching through old photos and found one of my kindergarten class in 1947. What caught my attention was that in my small class of about 20 we had four black students. As a 5-year-old living in an environment where segregation did not exist, it never occurred to me that skin color mattered. Billie and Richie and Delores and Lana were just friends that were in my class. We all grew up believing we were equals.

In honor of Black History Month the Cherokee County Historical Society recently posted on Facebook photos of two girls, the first students to integrate Cherokee High School in 1965. The post described how badly the girls were treated … antagonistically, name calling, throwing things at the girls. Integration in Georgia was a stressful time for both whites and blacks because segregation was so pervasive, so baked into the culture. That was over 50 years ago.

A couple of days ago I happened to watch a news program where the reporter was exploring white supremacy. He interviewed a man who professed to be a white nationalist. The reporter followed him to meetings of white nationalists in the U.S. and eventually to Germany to attend a Neo Nazi concert. The man was very clear in his opinion that the white race was superior. I’ve heard said we need to take our country back. Back to when …1950 … 1850?

Seeing so much emotion over whether a person’s skin is black or brown or yellow or red or white makes me ask “Who are we?” “What are we?”

Isn’t it time to stop and reflect or pray or ponder or meditate on what we believe and why we believe it? Does it really matter if my neighbor has brown skin?

Jim Harris


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