The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

December 05, 2014

I Once Was Colorblind, but Now I See

Racial reconciliation
By: 
Bethany Horvath

I’m a product of 1982, born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to parents who were not raised in the South. My mom and dad viewed the Civil Rights Movement on their black and white TVs from their childhood homes of Denver and Detroit.

When my siblings and I came along, my parents were quite insistent on their children being colorblind. I’m grateful for this. And I have learned from this over the years. And now I see things a little differently.

At a young age I had friends on our block who were White (like, really Southern White), Black (their mom was from the Virgin Islands), and Korean. “God made us all and we are the same on the inside,” I was told—and I believed it.

Except that there were differences. Different smells came from their kitchens. Different languages were spoken inside their living rooms. There were obvious differences in the color of our skin and the consistency of our hair. My young lenses just didn’t recognize how different we were.

I grew and matured while attending a primarily Black middle and high school—and the differences became more and more apparent. As I visited friends at home, hung out with them outside of school, and did life with them, I started to realize that life looked different for my friends with a different color of skin than me. Not drastically different (I thought at the time), but enough for me to notice.

As the years passed and my friends and I entered adulthood, made more friends along the way, and lost touch with a few others, my vision became more and more clear—fine-tuned, almost, in understanding just how different the lives of my friends actually are. And, as I’ve watched the news from the comfort of my living room or office and seen the tragedies of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and more, as I’ve had conversations with family and friends, as I’ve seen posts on social media—I now see.

I see that I went to middle and high school with Michael Browns and Eric Garners. Friends who had complete families (mothers and fathers) and friends who, to the public, may have looked like “thugs.” Friends who are now grown and have young sons and daughters of their own to raise. Friends who attended college, graduated, and are contributing to society but who could easily have ended up on the sidewalk.

I see my two brothers and recognize that they have the ability to live a longer life simply because they’re White. I’m grateful for this, yet also ashamed that this is the case. Friends of theirs from middle and high school are not guaranteed the opportunity to live as long just because they are different. They’re friends who have lived with my family, friends who have given to meet my family’s needs, friends who have become more than friends and are now family, friends who support my work and ministry with InterVarsity. I mourn this.

I mourn. So I search the Bible for answers to how to respond, and these verses continue to come to mind:

Romans 12:14-21, particularly verse 15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (ESV)

John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (ESV)

1 Corinthians 13, particularly verses 4-7 and verse 11: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. . . . When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (ESV)

And as I continue on this journey of seeking Christ and loving my neighbor, I pray this prayer:

Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve turned my head and closed my eyes to the injustice my brothers and sisters—your children—face. Forgive me for the times I had opportunities to advocate for things of you and instead walked away. Forgive me for wanting to currently disengage and withdraw. Lord, show me how I am to respond, and may my actions benefit the body of Christ instead of cause dissension.

I once was colorblind, but now I see. Lord, have mercy.


Image by Matt Kirk.


Check out the resources below for more reflections on race and reconciliation:

Lord, Meet Us in the Storm

3 Reasons Ferguson Matters to Me and to Our Ministry on Campus

Why We Can Hope for True Racial Reconciliation

Bethany Horvath

Bethany is InterVarsity’s Discipleship Project Manager and originally came to InterVarsity as Urbana 12’s Communication Director. You can often find her attending concerts, cheering on the Denver Broncos, reading tons of IVP books, and wearing scarves while having soul-stirring conversations with others. You can follow her musings on life at www.docu-a-day.tumblr.com

Comments

Bethany, Thank you sister for your love and words of affirmation. I'm saddened by the way some believers can't seem to believe and/or acknowledge that racial prejudice still exist and at times rears its ugly head in violent acts of injustice. Why is it hard to believe that prejudice still exist? Was it eradicated when slavery ended? Although we've made a lot of progress the answer should be obvious. Hatred is a sinful condition of the heart. If one ever took time to read about the cruel acts of slavery one would understand that a hateful heart is capable of hateful crimes; especially when the perpetrator has the power and authority to carry it out without repercussion. In these recent cases it's impossible to know every single detail of what happened without being there. However in each case surely there was enough evidence for at the very least an indictment. Police are always encountering people who are breaking the law. However the greater duty is expected from those who were sworn to protect and serve. I say all this to say thank you for "seeing". Thank you for caring enough to write this blog and THANK YOU for the Scripture verses. True love, peace and justice are found in JESUS CHRIST alone. He is the only Judge because He knows the heart and only He can (thankfully) change the heart. I pray for all those involved and hurt by these recent incidents. I'm disappointed by the outcomes but I refuse to become discouraged. I know The Lord "sees" all! God bless!
  • Sierra Guyton
  • Laylah C. Petersen
These are name you should be more concern with and represent the more pressing issues facing your friends from middle school and high school.
Hi Bethany, I'm Francis from Philippines 8,000 Miles away from your country, I'm doing some artwork while listening to our local Christian music when I accidentally came across to this website. I read your blog about being colorblind and it helped me understand some things if I look at it on a different perspective. I currently work as a customer care for siriusxm radio company and quite frankly, calls from an agitated customer is very common. I've been threatened, cursed and discriminated, I feel sad and mad about it and honestly I can't help but wish them bad luck someday, days when I forgot about how our Lord forgave us. I was so close to being colorblind but, Thanks to your blog it cleared my mind. By the way Bethany I hope you don't mind me sharing this beautiful music I'm listening on youtube it's very inspirational. Song Title: "Take me out of the Dark my Lord." Artist: Gary Valenciano. Enjoy your day and Advance Merry Christmas. GodBless!!!

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