In my hunger to heal racism, I kissed an adorable little girl on the forehead and wish I hadn’t. She probably does too.
Last Sunday in Evanston, the Lake Street Church (predominantly white), and the Second Baptist Church (predominantly black) had joint services. The LSC minister preached at 2BE’s 8 a.m. service and the 2BE minister preached at LSC’s 10:30 service.
The magnificent choirs sang the inspiring hymn Total Praise together at both services. I love when a good hymn, beautifully sung, brings me to tears and it was a full-on weeper.
Between the services, a couple of friends and I stopped for breakfast. While waiting for a table, a grandmother, her daughter, and granddaughter waited too. Thinking that they had attended the same service, and wanting to seize the opportunity to get to know each other, face-to-face over a meal, I suggested to my friends that they join us.
During our congenial conversation, we affirmed our gratitude for the inspiring service and hoped for more joint opportunities.
Nia, the delightful 3rd grader, beat my friend at Tic-Tac-Toe but lost the second game.
The morning felt like a love fest that I didn’t want to end.
As we hugged our good byes, Nia stiffened. Appropriately of course. What 8-year old welcomes a stranger’s hug? I settled for a kiss on the forehead but thinking about it later, I realized that a handshake would have been more welcome and empowering to a little girl. I wish I had that under my belt at the time. Unlike Barak Obama, children are not my strong suit, see How I kept children quiet.
What strikes me is my hunger to cure our disgusting racism.
I sensed that everyone at both services, and at the Interfaith Action of Evanston’s Thanksgiving eve service, yearn for this. With the thin veneer of civility in tatters, this hunger is palpable.
My eagerness for racial healing, which led me to kiss a little girl on the forehead, does not acknowledge the slow work that it requires. Deep wounds from centuries of racism will not be cured easily or quickly, if at all. Surely, the process will be two steps forward with one step back. It may take generations and be punctuated by misunderstandings and setbacks. As difficult as these conversations about racism are, at least we are having them. We must if we have any hope of moving forward. We can’t heal what we won’t face.