I’m not quite as old as the author of the post linked to above. I do, however, remember well growing up in a very similar environment. I can still recall the day I called a black classmate nigger simply because I thought this is what they were. I quickly learned from that situation that that word was uttered safely away from the ears of African Americans. I consider myself a funny enough person, but I can’t remember a joke well enough to tell it coherently. Yet, I can remember many of the racist jokes that were told to me in all kinds of places – including the places of worship that I attended as a child.
I can remember the first time I saw a black man walk into church on Sunday morning. You could breathe the tension in the room. I remember my first boss telling me that the black guy he had hired was an exception, because he usually didn’t hire them. This was in the early 1990’s.
Whatever we do in this debate about Obama’s pastor and what was said and what Obama knew, etc. etc. – let’s not pretend the issue of racism magically disappeared. There are real hurts, real chasms of generational proportions. God knows I’m guilty of my own racial prejudices in the past. I hope and pray that God is healing me of them every day.