I am in the midst of reading, “Freckled: A Memoir of Growing up Wild in Hawaii,” by T.W. Neal. (Toby) It is a fascinating story of a girl growing up with Hippie parents. (This takes place in the 1970s.) Her mother and father both love to surf; I should say they live to surf.
The parents moved from La Jolla, California to Hawaii in order to live their lives surfing and getting by on odd jobs and selling jewelry made out of seashells. They lived in their van or a shack near the beach.
What struck me most about this story was the racism enacted by native Hawaiians against them and all whites who moved there. I believe the native population despised the whites because they crowded their beaches with surfers, leaving them less room, and fished for food, which perhaps made an impact on their own fishing.
Toby’s family was threatened, called names and harassed. They tried to stay off the radar by not leaving their home except to buy groceries and go to the beaches. When Toby entered first grade, she was bullied and physically hurt constantly.
As I was reading this, I of course thought about the racism in North America against the black and brown population. I’ve read many books written by black authors and know a bit about what they have gone through. They have had to bear horrific, ugly, systemic racism since they were brought here from other countries.
Toby’s family was frightened, the police wouldn’t help whites. Sound familiar? And if you think it is better now, you are wrong. A co-worker of my husband went to Hawaii recently and he and his family were harassed by people in an all-Hawaiian town that was off the beaten track.
While sitting on my balcony, I heard some young men outside discussing racism after the death of George Floyd. They were all white. One of them said, “A black guy said to me, “You don’t understand racism.” I told him, “I grew up in India and was beaten every day going back and forth from school. I was the only white kid in the neighborhood. Don’t tell me I don’t know what racism is.”
I know someone who went to prison and found out the population there is separated into two classes: The Native Americans and the Whites. (We live in Canada.) The natives there outnumber the whites and harass them. During a riot, they hung some white and half-white men.
I have a family member who was not a racist at all. She once moved to North Carolina and had a great relationship with a black guy at her job. She said to him, “Let’s go for a beer after work.” He answered, “We can’t. If I go with you to a white bar, they will kill me. If I take you to a black bar, they will beat me up. She was stunned.
Later, when she moved to Florida, she moved into a black neighborhood and got a job cleaning apartments and houses. Men at her apartment building started threatening to hurt or rape her. Men at the building she cleaned did the same. She quit her job and moved to a white area.
So, people say, “The white people flee when black people move in.” Well, yes, but has anyone asked them why? I read about a white boy who was beaten by black boys every day walking to school, just like the white boy in India.
So today, after reading about Hawaii, I realized that racism is a sickness of the majority or dominant culture. Wherever you go, it will be the majority hating and harming the minority.
What’s the answer to this? A loving heart. How I wish I could open racists bodies up and shove a loving heart inside them. God can do that for each individual but only if that person asks him to do it. He never forces himself on anyone.
Some people say education will help eradicate racism. I think it will help a bit, but I don’t believe racism will ever be overcome in this world. There is good and evil here, and evil will play out its nastiness until Jesus returns.
The Bible says God isn’t a racist. He doesn’t care about our race or gender. Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
I pray we all might see each person we meet as a brother or sister who needs our respect and love. I pray we might love our enemies, as Jesus told us to do. I pray we will try to understand people who are different from us. And I pray we will forgive.