Tuesday, September 13, 2011

POTSC: A White Alabama Girl and The KKK

The Heart of Dixie. Where neighbors lounge in rocking chairs on front porches, sipping sweet iced tea on hot summer evenings, chatting about all the other neighbors and solving the world's problems, one sip at a time.

My home.

Alabama the beautiful...with an ugly past.

Alabama: The 1960's battleground for civil rights. The home of the infamous Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. The state whose capital name is synonymous with Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as George Wallace, Jr. A state once divided on the basis of skin color.

A white girl, I was born in the 1970s when the fight for civil rights was still pretty fresh on adults' minds. Alabama was adjusting to a new {and better} normal. Laws had changed, but the undercurrent of racism was still strong. In fact, most of what I knew as a child about Martin Luther King, Jr., was negative {and false}. Nigger was a commonly used word by white people {including me}, and attitudes of white supremacy were not uncommon.

And, sadly, the reputation of the KKK was somewhat that of heroic.

It was not rare to hear jokes about the KKK. Stories of burning crosses and roadside murders were passed down to my generation with little compassion or concern.

Looking back, even the church didn't seem to take a hard stance against the KKK. In fact, the church seemed somewhat netural, even if they weren't condoning. Maybe the blame was to be placed at the feet of ignorance. I certainly didn't have a full understanding at a young age that racism and prejudices were wrong and to be avoided. And even though I didn't participate in KKK activity, my attitude probably wasn't much different from those of KKK members.

It wasn't until I gave birth to my first child that I realized that racism and prejudice lied just beneath my surface. I was quick to give up the use of the n-word. With time I began to see beyond skin color, to understand that we were all created equal and in God's image.

So when I ask you to forgive the KKK and extend grace, I am asking you to include my past prejudices because there's only a fine line separating attitude and action. And whether or not ignorance may have been {and still be} the cause for most people who were involved with the KKK, hate runs deep, and your forgiveness could be their healing balm.

If you can't find it in your heart to forgive the doers of such despicable deeds, remember what Jesus had to say as he hung on the cross: Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34 NASB)

Other POTSC: Never Beyond posts:
Casey Anthony
Mike Tyson


  1. This is a great post and touches a nerve with me. Though I'm not from the South (I was born and raised in New York), I used to have spikes of racism in my own life. I grew up in a strong Christian home where love abounded. But for some, inexplicable reason, I did not like African Americans. And we had very good friends of the family that were black.

    I remember telling my mother when I was no more than four or five that I hated black people. For no reason whatsoever. Anyways, it was a generational curse from my grandfather (who was a Freemason. My surprised mother asked me why, I told her that I just didn't. So she prayed hard over my life and broke that curse on me. Since that day, I have never harbored hate in my heart for people just because they were different. I'm glad my mother did that. In fact, I don't tell many people that. But hearing your story made me want to tell mine.

    So, I thank you for sharing this. It touched me.

  2. Story promtps story. Thanks for sharing! I guess I never really told anybody or admitted to it either before now. Loving this series!

  3. WOW! I simply love the honesty of this post. I can almost feel the heart in your words. Thank you for sharing your story!

  4. Beautiful story!! I am in awe of the guts it took to be so transparent. Thank you for being a light!!

  5. Rebekah, thanks for your courage and transparency in sharing this. God is definitely growing us in grace through this campaign.

  6. Coenraad - Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comment!

    Karen - I don't know if it was so much wanting to be transparent as I was just stating the facts of the way it was. Interesting...your comment provoked deep thoughts. :)

    Mike - Yes! Not only am I growing in the discovery of grace, I'm making new blog-friends too! :)

  7. Whew. Alabama boy here. So thankful for radically transformative grace. I get it.

    Thanks for your honesty and boldness.

  8. Hey, Steve - saw you on my FB blog page. Heading over to your FB page to send you a message.

  9. I'm sure this wasn't easy to write, but I'm so glad you did. I wrote about the KKK this week too, but my biggest experience with prejudice had nothing to do with them. I grew up in south Texas, where racism/bigotry is aimed at Mexicans and any other person of some type of Hispanic descent. It isn't as obvious as the racism in the Deep South - no cross burnings or the like, but it is still there. I had to learn not to share those attitudes, but I know I was an adult before I really questioned them. There are probably some untried prejudices still running around in my head, but I am working hard to learn to love ALL of God's children exactly the same. I'm so glad to be POTSC with you.

  10. Carolyn - Glad you stopped in. I think we all have a lot more prejudices than we like to admit...they're just subtle and not as noticable. Glad POTSC is making us think and be aware.

  11. Martin Luther King, Jr. repeatedly asked for forgiveness ... for "some of our sick White brothers" referring to the racists who tried to destroy him and his people.

    You show the example of Jesus, and King, with your example. Keep it up. Love and forgiveness are much more powerful than hatred ....