Call Out Racism Where It Lives

Read and understand what you see on social media and think twice before you hit ‘share’: Is this something I understand and agree with? Does this fit comfortably with my religion? Would I be comfortable sharing this with people of other races, genders and faiths? Even if you agree with a message it may not be truthful.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | July 29, 215

For our children’s generation, what are the answers concerning what seems to be never-ending racism?

One of the answers unfolded in social media recently from start to finish with a friend of mine that I will call Robert. For a little background, Robert and I grew up in the same community in the South; his father was the principal of our school that encompassed kindergarten through 12th grade and was well loved and respected. Robert is a kind man and well respected, too, and serves as a link to his father and the deeper community. That should set the stage for what happened next.

Robert posted last week on his timeline saying that he avoids commenting on things that are of overtly political, racial, or inflammatory nature, but that he had come across a disturbing image. The image was posted by man that he knew that usually posted Christian scriptures at least once a day. The man’s post was of a black man holding a sign that resembled the ones he had seen from Ferguson protests, the sign read:

“No mother should have to fear for her son’s life every time he robs a store.”

Being suspicious, he looked further. He found the actual photo that had been edited in Photoshop; the original image carried these words:

“No mother should have to fear for her son’s life every time he leaves home.”

Robert thought about the situation and it bothered him. The image was all wrong; it was a fake. And for the man to have attached that to his timeline made it worse; he professed to be a Christian and was promoting a lie. He went back to the man’s social media page.

Robert called the man out and told him that the image had been created, not by the person holding the sign, but by someone with the cruel intention of inflaming whites and defaming blacks. He asked the man if he was misinformed or if he posted it intentionally. Robert also told the man that posting that image did not reflect Christian the values he claimed to have.

The man replied to Robert saying, “Things get posted and shared. I re-posted the photo and do not have the time to check everything that comes across my page. I had no way of knowing if it was photo shopped or not and really do not care.” The man stated that those were his feelings and that those were the feelings of a lot of his other white friends.

The conversation went downhill from there; this man began to turn all his frustrations and racism toward Robert. He was mad about the Confederate flag being removed, politicians, black activists and media. To finish that the man added that it was not Robert’s place to judge another person for any reason.

Robert vented on his page with grace and honesty: “In all of the man’s scripture quoting, he must have forgotten: “Thou shall not bear false witness.””

As I sat back and read the comments in support of Robert’s calling the man out, I saw a wonderful thing happen. I saw many people suddenly speak up and voice their views against hate and racism, something that many usually shy away from. Ignoring is the easy way out, but when folks ignore something it is viewed as complicity or in agreement. But that day, that one person made the difference and broke the pattern of quietly looking away.

For those of the Christian faith, ask yourself if you would be comfortable sharing a post on social media if Jesus was looking over your shoulder. What exactly would Jesus do?

My comment to Robert was about courage and strength and that his having stood up would give others the might and model to also face hate and racism when the need arises. Multiply that by the number of commenters and it shows their children that one person can make change happen – thus sets up a new pattern of behavior.

When the dust settled, Robert and the other man both deleted their respective posts. I hope the man learned from his encounter with Robert. And if he is indeed Christian, that he will review his moral code to define his values to reflect that faith.

Who are the racists? They are our friends and family, they are our bosses and people on the street. We are the cause and solution of racism. You and I can make a difference.

Tip for confrontation: Use “I” messages and keep to the facts. Avoid emotional, judgmental tones in your voice.

Our children are always watching; they are our best hope.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Aleksi Tappura via Unsplash.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Jack Pearce Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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About Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

Jackie has volunteered for more than twenty years for children and family issues. Currently she writes for parents in the "Reminder" and "Parent Rap" Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the "Reminder," send her a message.
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