August 9th, 2008
08:24 PM ET

T.D. Jakes: How do you respond to “I don’t want to get blacker, Daddy!”

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/23/art.bia.jakes2.jpg]
Bishop T.D. Jakes
Senior Pastor, The Potter’s House

I am delighted to see a continued rational discussion about race relations in this country. I know many find it painful and some would rather not discuss it at all. But like a good marriage, sometimes communication is the only way to create unification. Therefore, I applaud CNN for having the foresight to lead a discussion that hopefully will produce more love and a shared concern for people you see every day but might not know what they see when they live in the same world and breathe the same air that you do.

Often I pen words as a pastor, sometimes as an entrepreneur, and occasionally as a citizen with an opinion. But today, I have been asked to share a story as a father, and a person of color, who knows firsthand the challenges of raising children of color. I love this country and I am very proud to be an American. In spite of its many challenges and disappointments, I fervently believe that the benefits of living in the United States ultimately outweigh the liabilities.. But in the interest of sharing a “what is it like to be you” story, I will add this one to the discussion. To be sure, we are not all monolithic. Many, many, blacks have raised their children surrounded by masses of blacks and have faced a different challenge than mine.

I have twin boys who are almost 30 years old now. But when they were very young, I was sitting with both of them in the predominantly white environment of my home in West Virginia talking about things fathers discuss with their sons. I shared with one of my sons, that when I was his age my skin tone was very much like his, very light. In a matter of fact way, I mentioned that as I got older, my skin darkened and changed to become much more like his brother’s skin, which was darker.

My son, whose skin tone was lighter, began to cry profusely. I was befuddled by his reaction, but when your 7-year-old is crying without a reason and you love him, you investigate it immediately! So I asked him why he was crying. He blurted out, “I don’t want to get blacker, Daddy!” He looked at me in total anguish and said something that left me astounded. He said, “Because if you are black they hate you more.” He cried so hard that I took him in my arms so that he couldn’t see that I too was shedding a tear or two, myself. I was hurt for both of my sons, and I was hurt with them.

I was stunned. How could I have let myself be so busy trying to provide for my family, that I didn’t realize how I had not equipped them for the harsh realities of a world that can at times be both cold and unwelcoming to those who are outside of our “norm?” Do not misunderstand me, I know all too well from my own experiences, how things can be when you are a minority in a majority world. But what I didn’t know, was that this 7-year-old had encountered this level of anguish at such an early age, and that he had resolved in his own way that if he could avoid getting any blacker he might not have to feel the painful consequences of looking different. I doubt that it was overt racism, no sheets draped over the heads of the KKK, or Rodney King style beat downs in the back of the school. No, these were tears running down the face of a child who had been victimized by subtle covert racist distinctions right in front of my face and I didn’t even know it was happening in his world.

I sat on the floor holding two weeping children as my wife and I began to explain what a gift it is to be yourself, and to love who you are and how you are made. I told them how wonderfully God has created them in the skin they were in! It led to one of the richest, most rewarding discussions of my children’s lives and they still refer to it to this day!

It was then that it became crystal clear the importance of teaching our children the value of being African American and the value of their own self-worth. Sadly when one speaks of this teaching – African Americans to love themselves, their community or accomplishments, many outside of the realities of our life relegate such pride inappropriately as prejudice. I dare say that no race is exempt from prejudice and blacks like all people can have their biases. But pride and prejudice are not the same thing at all. In fact without the conscious effort to give black children the supplement of self esteem to replace the steady diet sent through media and other methods of communication that subtly suggest inferences of inferiority, they live with a disadvantage that is difficult to overcome in early their ages. Our children desperately need to see people who look like them, who have done well and have been accepted by mainstream America so they will know that it is possible. Today we are seeing more black, brown, and female faces slipping through the glass ceiling to positions of prominence and finding there a new breed of more accepting people. We all need a conscious concerted effort to help showcase these persons to whom young Blacks, Latinos and girls can aspire. Still we who are in the village that cares for children of all races, must be careful to insure that we do not innocently or consciously malign innocent minds with insensitivity to the unique nuances of their needs.

Looking back at that moment with my sons, my regret at that moment was that I had not started sooner. My tears resulted from outrage and shame. I was outraged because the children who I loved were dealing with such hideous experiences so early; and I was ashamed that I was so busy struggling to feed them that I didn't think to equip them sooner for the harsh realities to which I naively thought they hadn’t experienced. I was wrong!

This lack of “self-love” and the negative self-image that accompanies it, is not limited to those children raised in the inner city. Though my wife and I were struggling financially at the time, my older children were never raised in the inner city and grew up in what would be ordinary neighborhoods of moderate- to middle-class income. No sagging pants, no boom boxes, and no gangs were prevalent at the time. Instead they attended what I thought were good schools, we had low crime, well manicured lawns, active PTA’s, youth programs – the true American dream. Believe it or not, it is easy to become almost invisible in even these otherwise wholesome environments. Their classrooms were predominantly white, the teachers, principals and staff were generally white, their sports and, cheerleading teams were primarily white, as were the dances and birthday parties they attended. Without a strong injection of self-worth and appreciation for their differences, these types of experiences can leave many children of color losing themselves, trying to fit in with others.

If one takes a look at many of the social ills that haunt the African-American community – the proliferation of gangs, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, high school drop out rates, lower test scores – much of it can be tied back into a lack of self appreciation of who they are. To be sure, many of our families have been self-destructive, and some have been admittedly extremely dysfunctional. There is no question that we are not without some blame for many of the challenges we face today. The self-esteem issues are exasperated by absentee fathers, substance abuse, and many other circumstances that add to the conundrum of the lagging behind of our people. Yet, I shared my story to say that even when a black family overcomes those hurdles, and the father is at home, the family is stable, and the parents are involved with the school, etc., there is still an added invisible weight that saddles down the mind and cripples the soul of our children at incredibly early ages.

The baggage of being different is only crippling when the child is left to carry it without an intentional awareness of cultural diversity, sensitivity training and supervision in private and public schools to ensure that what they learn at school is education and not the devaluation that comes when those who make decisions do not look like the ones they decide about.

I am reminded of the young mainstream girls that we have seen and read about because of their struggle with bulimia and anorexia. They are bombarded with images everywhere you turn of rail thin women and are told, this is beautiful. Similarly, my children were bombarded with images of blonde, straight hair, blue-eyed children and were told this is beautiful. Their perception of normal was skewed based on their surroundings. The take away message is that if you are going to integrate the class, the staff, the pictures, the books, then all involved must reflect that commitment to ensure a healthy environment for those we seek to serve.

If all else fails, it must be the responsibility of the parents to instill the worth and value into our children as early and as often as possible. We must not shirk that responsibility. But if we can gain help from all people to make sure that no person is left dreading the skin they are in, we will really be the people that God meant for us to be. If people in general, and children in particular, are not exposed to their own culture, music, dance and food, all of us have to work to make sure that they experience that exposure. They must see images on the wall and around them that reflect their characteristics, and teach them to enjoy their unique appearance, language, skin tone or whatever it may be that sets them at risk of being a part.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words still ring soundly today, “Judge me on the content of my character and not the color of my skin.” Can a brother get a good Amen?

Editor’s Note: Bishop T.D. Jakes is a senior pastor of The Potter’s House. Over 10 years the church has grown from 50 families to more than 30,000 members with a nationally syndicated TV program.

Filed under: Bishop TD Jakes • Black in America
soundoff (557 Responses)
  1. cul heath

    Amen Amen Amen.

    As a white man in Florida I am constantly barraged by overt and occulted racism toward blacks, mostly from adults. It literally sickens me. But then I see black and white kids hanging out together with no trace of that bigotry and I am heartened that they represent the real near future.

    Thanks for that article, it brought tears, but hope too.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  2. W. Wilson

    I too had the same experience with my daughter several years ago when taking a road trip with my family, my daughter informed me that she did not want her cabbage patch doll (the one I searched high and low for). Through her tears she cried that "there was something wrong with her". I too was stunned. We were considered a middle-class family and thought that we were doing a pretty good job raising our child. I knew immediately, as a black man, it was paramount that I educate my child of the riches of her heritage. I also taught her to appreciate her very dark skin. In short, today she loves the beautiful black skin she's in and understands what being an African Queen really means. But that's a whole other story. Thanks Bishop Jakes.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  3. Jim

    I grew up in a predominantly white, upper middle class community. My parents were very open, loving people and we had always been taught that a person was a person no matter their race, religion, or ethnicity, and we were to treat everyone as we ourselves would want to be treated.

    At that time, there were maybe two or three black families in town and there never seemed to be any animosity directed towards them. Some years later though, I happened to be speaking with a black man outside of the market, who was new to town, and he revealed he had only been here one week and already someone had yelled to him "Go back to Africa, n*****!"

    I was shocked that someone would yell this in my own community but it made me realize something. Sometimes you don't see the hate unless it is directed at you. The majority of whites in the US say that racism isn't a problem, while the majority of blacks feel that it is. The reason is, most whites will never be subjected to the hate and the slurs that a black person might be, and so never see the prejudice in their own community, and do not realize how prevalent it might be.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  4. Matt

    Very thoughtful article. I would be interested in your opinoin as to how much the learned helplessness, hopelessness, anger and resentment that characterizes much of the younger african american generation is a product of older generations...what they are taught to perceive as the reality in which they live by the authority figures in their community.

    I ask because sometimes it seems that, while there are undeniably problems/issues to be resolved, progress yet to be made...there is still progress that has been made, a different world to live in than it once was, etc...while all that may be true, it seems there is a definite element of wanting to perpetuate the perception that nothing has changed, all is the same, no progress has been made and, well, the white world is still out to get you. I look at the quotes of ranting of individuals like Rev. Wright and wonder how much damage it does to a young mind that still has hope, still believes the world is there for the taking, to be taught to perceive in black and white, to perceive a dichotomy of interests, to have their world polarized by their own identity because their own elders teach them fear, anger, resentment, suspicion and that there is no way out.

    Sure, there are pockets of racist white devils in this country...always will be...we're all going to have to learn to live with that and not attribute it to the general population. Still, it sometimes seems that the african american chair at the table MLK dreamed of remains unoccupied as a result of an unwillingness to sit there...like there's fear of identity loss in unity. Nothing's lost there tho...everything's gained.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  5. brian

    Good Lawd, my cousin whants to be black. Hes a redhead. So what?

    July 23, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  6. Jeepers

    Come on black people, evolve already! Have your national self pity party and try to catch up with the Latinos, who have already left you behind (along with the Koreans and Indians, etc, etc.) and are now pretty much on par with whites in terms of success and values in this country. This is why we cannot afford to elect Obama. "Poor me I'm black" will become the new national mantra!

    July 23, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  7. David Bradley

    This is a lovely article, lucid and fair. If only more people thought this way.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  8. Nikolai Kozarowitzky

    I like the article and the strength of the bishop as a father to his sons.
    However coming from Europe I do not understand the continued label black people carry as being less. I believe black people are equal in all aspects of life. This is how I was raised in the Netherlands. The only difference is a skin color, all else was the same. However in the US I feel like black people and the society keep this stigma alive of being black as being less.
    I believe black people need to stop feeling they are less fortunate and stop using the so called "black card" as a means to say they are less fortunate, or whenever things dont go their way.
    I know many black people that have been challenged because of their color, but never through all adversity used their skin color as a reason to give up. Eventually their determination paid off and now are only seen for their achievements, dignity and strength.
    Yes, is it true that rascism exists, ofcourse others will use it as a means to undermine others. But its those who are weak in mind that act that way and use rascism.
    So I urge black people to ignore these weak minds and rise above. Dont ask others to understand, but be stronger and stand above. This is not an easy task but the only way to close the gap.
    White people will always have an excuse to have an issue with black people as long as they remain having the issue they have today, such as the proliferation of gangs, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, high school drop out rates.
    These are all reasons for white people to quickly overlook other achievements. Eventhough white people have similar issue's, the focus is not on them. Gangs have been glorified to long and the life style as well. I love Bill Cosby and agree with his message as well.
    Its a tough task but like the bisshop writes, things change by example.
    So parents who go around telling their kids, things are the way they are because their black etc stop!! Its not because your black, its because you choose defeat and the easy way out. Rise aboove, show your children great black leadership and examples.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  9. Linda, Virginia

    Bishop Jakes and I are first-cousins. I applaud his courage and honesty in addressing the TOPIC of discussion that was presented to him by CNN.

    Respectfully yours.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  10. LaChelle

    First of all great article Pastor Jakes. Secondly I read some beautiful comments on this blog. But, sadly enough you have folks who just don't get it. He can't speak on any other race because He's black, he can't tell you of another groups struggle because He hasn't walked in their shoes. I'm a Black female and until you walk into a room, an interview, meeting/gathering for the first time and get the "Oh she's black face", you have no idea what it's like to be a Black person. How many times have "you" been told that "You speak well"? Do you know where that type of question stems from? From certain groups of people believing in negative images that they see in the media of black people. I face racism everyday of my life; espically living in Louisville, KY and working in the Southern Indiana area. If you faced 1/2 of what me and my husband face, you would probably take a gun and blow your brains out. Oh, just to make sure the "Oh, she's black" face isn't just popular in Louisville, KY; the samething has happened to one of my best friends who just so happened to have graduated from Columbia (Ivy League) Manhatten with her Master's Degree and 4.0; trust me when I tell you, the "Oh, your black" face is live and well. Or when I tell someone that I have a degree in Criminal Justince they automatically assumed that I grew up in "da Hood" with shootings/killings everynight. My husband is the Asst. Pastor at our church, but when he's in his shorts/t-shirt going to the grocery strore, he's treated like he's some thug off the street. Another bestfriend owns (2) luxury vehicles that she hates driving them because of the constant negative comments that she gets from mostly white people, whipers of "how can they afford that", to the point where they had to get a family friend to come to one of the lots to sell them a car because noone wanted to wait on them assuming they were "broke"; BIG mistake. Listen to what Pastor Jakes is telling you, he's speaking about his own experience because that's all He has had to draw from. Until you walk in someone's shoes you have no idea what you're talking about. To one of the bloggers who posted "Get over it"; I will as soon as "It" gets out of my face.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  11. MN

    I remember having that conversation with my father 30 years ago. Looking back at that little girl who cried in anguish because her skin wasn't light enough breaks my heart today. And I can tell you that the experiences of blatant racism as a child for me where few and far between. It was the hidden message about the color of my skin that made me yearn to have a lighter completion.

    It took me a long time to appreciate myself and my heritage. It might surprise you to know that I am a Latina from Los Angeles. As a teenager in my journey to find myself I got involved with gangs and everything that comes with the territory. Eventually I was able to find my way but it was not easy road. I adore my skin color and embrace my heritage today.

    I am convinced that not every Latino has had my same experience because we as a people are so diverse. I have many family members that can pass off as a white person and I can assure they don't know what it is like to walk in my shoes. Unfortunately I see my son, and his cousins and young teenagers in our community struggle with the same issues and the cycle continues. As for Latinos who are positive role models, George Lopez, our Mayor, its like....they got lucky....we don't see that everyday. What we see as the role models are the homeboys hanging out on the street corners getting respect.

    All I can say is a can relate and I completely agree. God bless.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  12. Carlton

    Biop Jakes,

    Your words touched me deeply. I have a 7 year old daughter who is legally blind. She reads Braille, uses a cane, and has endured a great deal of pity, teasing, and mean treatment from her peers - including her friends.

    I teach her that the amount of sight a person has tells you nothing about the kind of person s/he is. I remind her that Jesus taught us to love one another without regard to skin color, sightedness, ability to walk, etc.

    I will share with her your wise words and continue to let her know that she is a worthwhile person and a glorious gift from our gracious Lord.

    Thank you!

    July 23, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  13. A. From Orlando

    Brian July 23rd, 2008 2:46 pm ET

    When will we see a special about being Irish in America or Latino or Asian. This kind of black only victimization is ridiculous.

    Brian you are so missing the point. We will see a documentary on Irish, Latino and Asian when you can identify with this issues that many Black men in America face. Your birth canal is far different and when you walk in a black mans shoes successful or not, then you will understand his plight.

    One question, have you ever fit the description? I'm sure that’s a no! Why don’t you watch with a non-judgmental disposition to see if you can relate to CNN's findings if you can, we have a line of communication that is open for you to voice your opinion.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  14. Rasheed

    I'm a dark skin black male and I have never had problems with skin tone racism. This is an article that shows his son connects his skin tone with attractiveness when really it has nothing to do with skin tone. Attractiveness is about facial features and even if T.D Jakes was as white as snow he still wouldn't be considered attractive. This CNN black american series is starting to irritate me.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  15. g

    Given that the human race began in Africa and that all humans today are descendants of Africans, no matter what race they are classified as today, all Americans are African Americans.

    This African race now includes a multitude of skin colors, tones and shades but we all are descended from the first humans. Today's ideas of race are artificial intellectual constructs. What we need are people who are willing to use their innate intelligence to discover this truth and base their action in the world on this reality.

    If we keep passing these artificial (and arbitrary) constructs of racial divisions down to our children they will be born again into each succeeding generation, into perpetuity. What we need most is to use our brains, not legislation, riots or wars.

    Trace each person's DNA back far enough and we all have the same homeland.

    With the interbreeding of the races growing exponentially we are in the (painfully slow) process of solving the problem. I bet Mr. Jakes has ancestors who did not have dark skin, just as I, considered by society to be "white" have little doubt that I have fairly recent ancestors who were dark skinned.

    Our DNA is the Truth about race- the artificial constructs are not.

    Humans just have not evolved enough to understand LIFE yet.

    The problems Mr. Jakes suggest are real, I agree. They are real to the extent that people believe them to be real. The problem, however has nothing to do with skin color, that is just an easy excuse for intellectually lazy people.

    The root of this problem is fundamental and foundational – whatever programming we put into the minds of our children thus becomes their reality.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  16. Greg

    I think the majority of problems blacks face are self check. Teen mothers are not THE WHITE MAN'S FAULT, you droping out of highschool is not THE WHITE MAN'S FAULT, kids taking the easy way out selling drugs instead of working is not THE WHITE MAN'S FAULT, black men not being involved in their kids lives is not THE WHITE MAN'S FAULT. Black people we have to hold ourselves acountable first and end a lot of the defeatism attitudes out there.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  17. Faye

    I think you have explained this situation very well. I am white, but I was taught as a child, "you're just like God made you". I hope to see the day we can view each other as a child of God first and everything else will fall into place.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  18. Louey

    I am a white male who lives in and grew up in Hawaii. I grew up wishing I was Hawaiian and staying as tan as possible. In school I was careful not to act "too white" so as to avoid racial slurs and beatings. It's a fact! Whitey gets discriminated against in Hawaii, especially 30 years ago, ask Barack. It is not unique to African Americans in America.

    While I won't compare my plight to that of African-Americans, it is time for African Americans to realize the majority of white people don't care what color your skin is. I am voting for Barack, my favorite athletes are black and my favorite music is from black artists. I don't care what color their skin is and most of us whites don't care, this will hopefully become apparent as Barack gets elected. Stop worrying about the remaining minority of whites who are still bigots and fools and get on with living your life. They will pass on soon and it will even be a smaller percentage of fools holding on to twisted beliefs. Don't sit back and wait until you think the "coast is clear " to be black. Get on with your life. We all want you to succeed.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  19. Suzanne

    Relle in Boston, Blacks were not in-slaved, but enslaved.

    I raised my children to ignore skin color and go by character. I was kind of raised like that, so the effort was there.

    As long as a person claims to be a victim there will be no progress. Take control of your life and you will progress.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  20. Emma

    Pastor Jakes, Thank you for sharing such a passionate story. There is a documentary on CNN this evening at 9 EST about Being black in America. I will endulge everyone to watch.
    As an immigrant growing up and now having my children in this country, I have the obligation not only to educate my kids with these thoughts (self love and respect) but also to explain to them the value of diversity and my uniqueness as an immigrant.
    What perpertuates these negatives of being different is BET. This media does not help black folks but certainly destroys the community. I am surprised that in the name of enterprenuership some of these prominant black leaders still go on this channel to either sell their products without reprimanding the executives of this media.

    All comments are welcome! The subject is now BET destroying the black community!

    July 23, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  21. J in D.C.

    It is as simple as this: No other ethnic group has the unique and tumultuous relationship with America that Black Americans have had throughout its inception. thus, even through gritted teeth, I understand JC's ignorance of central issues that govern this discourse. I agree with many of you that it is silly and pointless to argue that Black American's have a monopoly on victimization. I am only suggesting that experience is unique and it is unsettling to see that others of different nationalities who have come to the United states find them selves equipped to pass such sweeping negative judgments on a group of American's that they , in reality, know so very little about. Those "opportunities" that are available now to all minority groups have been made possible because Black American's have been forcing doors open for centuries in this country. the beauty of this series is that encourages discussion like this.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  22. Sarah

    Pastor Jakes,

    I grew up with your boys in WV, and have very fond memories of them. They were both on my campaign committee for student council president in middle school, and I've always remembered their kindness.

    If you read this, please give my best to them both 🙂

    Sarah G.
    Austin, TX

    July 23, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  23. David Rice NY

    First let me thank Bishop for presenting this heart felt story. It must be understood that even with all of the great difficulties that our folk have suffered we have still made great strides. Still though we have such a long way to go. I believe that African American parents have to except more responsibility for the self esteem issues that our children and our race face. No one is better suited to teach your children about not only pride in our race but pride in ourselves as individuals first. I think what has been missed in this country and world is if one person of any race feels disinfranchised the world is at a lost. Thanks again Bishop Jakes for bringing forth your story. may God continue to bless you.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  24. Donald Husar

    Excellent piece of work! Nothing compares to first hand knowledge on a given subject.
    I have been married twenty years to my beautiful wife who is Black. Yep, I am white. We have three sons and have been living in the Antelope Valley area of California for the duration of our marriage. We ran into a situation back when our children were very young. Black History month was in full swing and my wife asked the public school our kids attended what they were planning. An 99% white school had nothing planned. My wife asking why not, received an "Its not important" type of response. It is important to us that our kids get both sides of the culture coin. But we talked about that way before we had kids. She wasn't happy with the schools response and proceeded to make it important with the school board. Goes to show that nothing happens unless you make it happen. But more than that it is hughly important to expose those folks who may never be exposed to different cultures to become aware there are different cultures. I beleive her efforts to make this happen opened up the eyes of those who may have never or ever been exposed cultures other than their own. This in turn will provide an understanding for next the generation adults to work off of.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  25. Ivan Goldberg

    Rev. Jakes,

    While that is a truly heart warming story, I can not help that you would sing a much different song regarding my own childhood. I was seven years old and without anyone telling me back in 1966 I knew I was gay (though we did not have that word to describe a homosexual then). I lived in a very small town in upstate New York.

    You see it is one thing to be falsely hated for the colour of your skin but to be a homosexual and hated is justified because it is a religous issue. If G-d says I am foul then it gives license for all to feel I am foul. There is no society that will come to my aid.

    At the age of seven I wanted to crawl into a pit and die. At the age of 49 I have learned that the only one who will love me is myself.

    Just thought I would add this bit of wisdom though I doubt this entry will make it to you.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  26. Karen Walker

    Thank you so much for sharing this touching story. I am looking forward to "Black in America." My husband is a United Methodist pastor and once we visited The Potter's House; it was a great Sunday.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  27. Patty Cee

    Reverend, where's your kid now? Why don't you go get him, I wanna give him a big hug.

    Bless you and your family.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  28. Kristen

    I enjoyed the article and thought it was very poignant not only for the black community, but also for anyone facing self-image, self-worth, and/or self-esteem issues. Inspite of this, it is a little disheartening to read all of the comments by white people who think that black people need to grow up and are making blanket judgments based on a few interactions, whether directly or indirectly, with black people. Not only do we need to realize that there are different races, cultures, creeds, etc. in this country, we also need to realize that there is diversity within any given classification of people. Let's not paint every black person with the same brush. Yes, we have the same ancestry and the same color skin and yes, we have all had similar experiences, but this doesn't mean that we all take away the same things. Some of us do become victims of our environments and circumstances, but there are many others who work hard everyday to rise about the very little that is expected of us and live fulfilled, accomplished, and peaceful lives.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  29. Carlos Montana

    I could understand the preacher, I do not write very good english, however, i can say that from my perspective I see that the black man or woman in america has endured many hardships that white people do not understand. I as a Cuban not a communist but a proud cuban man understand these problems because in my days i remember the old cuba and the racial problems but they were not as bad in america later when fidel took over , yes, racial problems got fixed under natural terms. Yes , it was many systems and cultures that have passed through cuba but never the discrimination and hate like in america. I respect the black preacher and if he invite me, i go to his church. thank you

    July 23, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  30. JB

    Race is still a prevalent issue for Black people not because we seek special treatment or want to wallow in our own self pity. But the truth is that there is no other group of Americans who has faced a similar experience…ours is unique. Our ancestors were not immigrants seeking a “better life”, from Europe, Asia, or the Caribbean…they were forcibly taken and sent here to be slaves. Less than 50 years ago in this country if you were a black man or women you could barely vote for fear of being beaten or intimidated; it is likely you did not own a home, and no one would give you a bank account; and the fact that riots, protests and bombing took place merely at the thought of school integration are things that occurred not that long ago…this is of my parents generation…and I am only 30 years old. Imagine having to face or have that as your ancestral experience?! Is it any wonder that the Bishop’s son said he did not want to become any darker? Black people bring this up and talk about our reality and struggle not to get weighed down in, but also not to ignore it. In addition, let us not deny or brush over the fact that the history of black people in America has had lasting affects and placed many of us behind the curve on things like home ownership, educational attainment, wealth and capital (not merely having a job, which is income), and our industrial prison complex. However, the fact that we are even having this conversation is a good sign that we may be able to openly discuss race, history and its place in our country.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  31. S McLaughlin

    How are we going to move forward if we keep living in the past? As a society, all races are judged unfairly. Camera chasers like Rev. Jesse Jackson just abuse the media to throw one race's injustices in your face. Life is tough, and what we should focus on is grooming are children for acceptance of all races and groups. This is so whites don't discriminate to blacks, blacks don't discriminate to whites, and all the other racial groups in our great country are treated fairly as well.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  32. baba

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    your story is very real to me because my experience happened as i drove my two children home from school. (We live in a majority white suburb and I didn't grow up in the US.)

    They both burst out crying in a middle of our conversation...nothing related to race at that time. When i asked the reason for crying, they asked why God made them black. These were thoughts on their minds and I didn't even know.

    They are are still in grade school as we talk, but what is beautiful in this case is that my wife and I continue to teach them that the color of their skin has little to hold them back from God promises. We can achieve anything we aim to be when we look beyond our skin color, work hard and look up to the author and finisher of our faith.

    We are US citizens who moved into this beautiful country from Africa.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  33. Brown

    No matter how many discussions or reality T.V. shows there are or news about how blacks are being treated, some white people will never get it. No matter how many stories there are about how blacks or hispanics get different mortgage rates, or different automobile loans you still have those whites that still say blacks and hispanics are not being mistreated and to get a grip on life. Am I saying that blacks are not the cause for some of our problems, no I am not. I could go on for days about things we do that causes problems for our race. But every race has their problems. But it is amazing how some of you white folks seem to downplay what blacks and hispanics are talking about when it comes to race. I mean look at the Obama, Clinton situation. Read some of the comments that are written on these blog sites. Read some of the nutty comments on here when this man is speaking truth and speaking positive. I can understand some of you white folks comments about blacks, because their are blacks out there that just want a handout, don't want to be responsible for nothing, and are just plain ignorant, but you no what so are some whites, some hispanics, and some asians. There is a comment on here from a person saying that they think blacks are the most racist people, but to be honest it's whites. White people have more hate groups and organizations than any other race. They have a hate group for every race of people. You whites say all blacks do is kill, kill, kill, but who's shooting up all of these schools, you say all we do is steal, steal, steal, but who's running Worldcom, Enron, and HealthSouth. You say blacks need to get a grip on life and to be more responsible, but here is a man that has a grip on life, shows plenty of responsibilty by doing what he preaches and gives back to his community, and always talks positive, but you still have some white folks on here that are just talking plain negative. Maybe you need to get a grip.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  34. Emmanuel

    Pastor Jakes, Thank you for sharing such a passionate story. There is a documentary on CNN this evening at 9 EST about Being black in America. I will endulge everyone to watch.
    As an immigrant growing up and now having my children in this country, I have the obligation not only to educate my kids with these thoughts (self love and respect) but also to explain to them the value of diversity and my uniqueness as an immigrant.
    What perpertuates these negatives of being different is BET. This media does not help black folks but certainly destroys the community. I am surprised that in the name of enterprenuership some of these prominant black leaders still go on this channel to either sell their products without reprimanding the executives of this media.

    All comments are welcome! The subject is not BET destroying the black community!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  35. selene michaels

    one thing stands out with me in this posting: Rev. Jakes, why were you even talking about skin color and how yours changed with your kids? I say this is a black woman who grew up in a family with a variety of skin colors. my oldest brother is darker-skinned than me, my other brother somewhere in between with my parents and my sister is lighter. but never once did my parents talk about varieties of skin color in anything other than a very matter-of-fact manner. i should also note that they talked to us very matter-of-factly about racism, and the fact that we are all human beings worthy of respect and should not allow ourselves to be put down, or put others down. so let's stop all the hand-wringing and moaning and just teach our kids to be themselves and value themselves, regardles of skin color–white, light, brown, black or whatever.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  36. TBG-Sactown

    Great article, Brother Jakes did what responsible fathers are supposed to do, provide wisdom, comfort and protection. I applaude that. He did what I have been doing with my kids.
    When are blacks and whites alike going to get the hint they will never see eye to eye, that prejudices and rasism exsits and will always exsist . Being a Hispanic because thats is what my father is, also being white because that is what my mother is has taught me to take advantage of the opportunitues afforded me by the grace of God not my ethnicity. Granted many have sacrificed in the name of cutural advancement and to that I am grateful and feel blessed to be in this great country even with all it's faults. It is refreshing to read all the thoughts and feelings for these intelligent and insightful bloggers however we must not let the ignorance of one define our purpose and destiny. I for one, refuse to let the memory of being called a halfbreed, beaner, greaser prohibit me from fullfilling my God given purpose. There are culture groups in America that will never accept me or honor me or even care that I exsist. Thats not OK with me but I also know athe when I come home at night my wife, children and grandchildren love and respect me. And for those who used those hurtful words against me, I have forgiven and it didn't matter what color the were. Whatever gets fed lives and grows.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  37. Bob

    I have always been very pale...since I can remember I have wanted to be more tan. This is not because of anything to do with race, I just think being tan looks better.

    Is it possible that your son didn't think that darker people were hated more because they were seen as more african-american but because they were different than the average skin tone?

    I hate being pale, not hate being a caucasian. Maybe your son didn't want to be dark, but had no problem being an african american.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  38. Marcus Allen

    I grew up in a poor black neighborhood. I know racism first hand. I was always afraid of being beat up by the other kids because of my color. Fortunately I grew up not being racist and hating those black children that did that to me.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  39. PERRY

    I too have an experience very similar with yours and agree with all that you said. I travel a lot on my job. In Feb. my six-year-old daughter called me on the phone. Her question – What did the brown people do to the white people. Her school had shown a black history show entitled "My Friend Martin." To this day, I still haven't seen it. Obvisously, it showed some of the treatment Blacks recieved in the Civil Rights struggle. My daughter was very confused. I live in predominately white part of metro Atlanta. African American culture wasn't represented at the school's annual Sock Hop dance. However that oversight came to be, I will start early this school year to ensure proper representation.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  40. Mark

    With the world experiencing the ever increasing intensity of the 'global village syndrome’ issues of diversity are increasingly competing for the center stage. It is as if we are all suddenly feeling a sense of great loss- when the next person is 'finding themselves'. Of late, I'm particularly amazed how quickly the black experience is often diluted with other perhaps competing social issues – but not the subject of discussion at a given point.

    For instance, after reading the powerful excerpt by Bishop Jakes, someone quickly posted something about sexuality–posing the question, what about the gays etc...I'm saddened with the whole notion of hijacking this platform and trying to use it for other issues that cannot be discussed in the same vein, or atleast teh same time as race in America. I can't help but think, there must be a another portal where discussions -on sexuality or global warming or peta and the list goes on and on- are being conducted yet you can count on the issue of race in America or elsewhere, to be hijacked.

    My question is what must we do to stay focused, can our 'internal mechanisms' even allow us to stay focused on race discourses? Is it a spirit or perhaps are we knocking at the core of our hearts with this topic of race? As much as we discuss race, why can’t we get relief?

    Thank you CNN for organizing this forum and I hope as a community (the elite who are mainly participating in this dialogue) can learn something new and more importantly implement it to make America and the world a better place. God Bless.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  41. Dee Dee

    JC and anyone else that thinks that black america should get over it and move forward, well, we would and could if other nationalities could move forward with us. If race discrimination did not still exist, then we would have nothing to talk about. You can't talk about something that does not exist. Kids do encounter, at a young age, discrimintation- I know for a fact. Do you think this is a thought or mindset of a 5 year old. No, it is the thoughts of Parents feeding this to their children JC. A 5 year old does not know or feel unworthy or embarrassed unless someone makes him/her feel that way. It is not over people and I don't believe it will ever be over until Jesus Christ comes. Yes, we are seeing more color in high places but don't think for a minute it is equal or no where near equal. No other race has been discriminated against because of the color of their skin. So yes, we have to continue to teach our kids, no matter what others think, that they are BEAUTIFUL.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  42. Gary Welch

    Very though provoking and sad that children should feel this way!

    As a person of non-color (or perhaps all colors), Caucasian, white, or whatever description fits, I find it strange that I do not see how, in today's society, we can continue to believe there is any separation based on ethnicity, gender, or religious beliefs. We currently have a person of color as the presumptive democratic presidential candidate and a female as a potential vice presidential running mate. The simple fact that America accepts this, and has stated this in the caucuses, speaks bounds about how ethnicity, or sex, is no longer, or should not be, a factor in judging the ability of a person to do a job based on anything other than their abilities.

    Why is it we keep bringing this up and reminding people that we should consider a person based on skin color or any other non-relevant factor?

    Unfortunately, there is a small minority that is reluctant to accept that we are a diverse society that composes what we call America. If we start ignoring them, they will go away. They are irrelevant!

    By constitution, and by majority belief, we as Americans are all colors, all genders, all ages, and all religions accepted equally. “How easy is that”?

    I find it interesting that there is a focus on being African-American, or any other dash-American, as opposed to simply being American.

    Certainly there should be pride in heritage and ancestral background; but should this overshadow the fact that we are simply Americans? How many dash-Americans were actually born outside America?

    We all came, ancestrally, from other countries; well, most of us. Native American Indians are really the only Americans that could obviously claim the title as natural Americans.

    Perhaps I should refer to myself as a Welsh American? No thanks, I’m an American; it’s simple; I was born here and I don’t intend leaving.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  43. frank thomas

    As a proud gay man i can relate to this ,I once had a friend over and he was looking up at my ceiling in the living room,the larage beams were painted a mauve colour and the tounge and groove ceiling were a swiss coffee ,he said,"Your ceiling is too gay," I never understood what he meant until I read the article by Mr. Jakes, does this mean it is alright to be black or gay just don,t overdo it?? ftw

    July 23, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  44. typical white person

    I am saddened by your story but probably not for the reasons of others posted here. It makes me realize that we will never get beyond race as long as we are a hyphonated society that feels the need to separate by race and teach our children "pride" in our particular race instead of pride in our accomplishments. Being white or being black is not something you have control over so what is the point of being proud of it? If you get good grades – now THAT is something to be proud of. You have worked and accomplished something that nature didn't just hand you.

    As hard as I try to teach my children to be color-blind I am finding it is impossible. Obama refers to "typical white people" and Jackson is throwing around the N-word while accusing white people of being racist if they do the same thing. The hypocracy of that causes me to lose credibility with my young sons when I tell them that we are all the same and should judge people by their actions, not their skin color. I tell them one thing (we are all the same) and then the media and people like you keep telling them that YOU are different and proud of it.

    Where will it end?

    July 23, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  45. RC

    Sorry, but I think it was pretty naive of you to be shocked when your son cried because he did not want his skin to get darker, Bishop Jakes. We all know the stories about blacks wanting to "pass" as whites. We all just want to fit and assimilate. Its old news, and regardless of your simplistic feel good essay, you can't do anything to change it.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
  46. Samuel

    Pastor Jakes

    My watches you when your on. I watch when I can(due to a hectic work schedule)

    My wifes wonders why you do not run for President. You are a man of faith and one thing that America needs is good scrupples again. We need someone who is going to fight against Abortion and the Homosexual Agenda.

    Barack Obama is certainly not the least bit concerned about those issues. Oh by the way it doesn't matter to me what the skin color of our president is going to be. It only matters if he or she is going to do the job that they are sent o Washington D.C to do.
    I am a white Irish/German heritage who is a born again Christian with three children. Hate is something we can all do without....

    July 23, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
  47. zorar

    Smart kid!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  48. Judy Eshelman

    Pastor Jakes,
    You story reminded me of how easy young children can be influenced.
    When I was 5 years old my mother made an off hand commet about a black friend of my uncles. She pulled my uncle aside and told him not to bring "one of those" into her house again. To my childish mind, it said that "those people must be bad or inferior to white. So with that implanted in my young mind I guess I grew up with a scued view of the Afro Americans I met. My youngest son somehow grew up knowing all races, and accepting them for who they are, not what color they are. I have learned a lot from him. Your message just reinforces what he has taught me.
    thank you.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  49. David

    To Norma above:

    White people did not sail to Africa and take slaves and bring them back here against their will. Your "own people" (hate saying that) brought you here and sold you to the white man. Why do blacks hold this against whites? You should be angry at the people that subjected your ancestors to that.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  50. CJ, California

    Bishop Jakes,
    I appreciate your words of wisdom and that you shared your story. I am a middle-aged white man, that was raised in the rural south where the old ways still exist. Sadly, I took those same bigoted ideals and took them as my own, simply because that was how I was raised. Fortunately, as I went to college, joined the military, and have been exposed to people of other races, I am proud to say that most of those ideals that I was raised with have vanished.

    I say most because I am an imperfect person and sometimes I still catch myself going back to my childhood tendancies at times, especially when I perceive that I, or my race, is being attacked. I often hear of the struggles of being a minority in America, but I become closed-minded to the person's plight when they start blaming "whitey". Though I grew up in bigoted household, I did not grow up in a priveledge household and had to work hard to pull myself up from my poor surroundings to my middle-income life I have now. My point is that being white is not necessarily an easy thing either, but I am not niave enough to not understand that blacks have other challenges to overcome. I reject racism, but I am mindful that differences in cultures will breed certain contempt for the other. I believe that is human nature, and that there is not much we can do about that other than blend our cultures into one.
    Bishop, you said "Sadly when one speaks of this teaching – African Americans to love themselves, their community or accomplishments, many outside of the realities of our life relegate such pride inappropriately as prejudice." With all due respect Sir, I disagree. Where you see pride in yourself and your community, I see the propagation of racism, of feeling of oneself as superior to the other. To me, Black Entertainment Television, JET, Miss Black America, the NAACP, etc. are not symbols of pride or of teaching blacks to love themselves, but instead institutions teaching blacks to stay within the black community, to stand strong in the face of other cultures, to perpetuate racism. As a white man, I see these defenses go up, and the hope of reconciliation fades. Until, we all choose to become one group, may I suggest Americans (and I mean leave the hyphens out), then racism will remain to exist. It is not just up to white majority to solve racism, it is the honest effort to love each other and accept each other with all their differences, that will see this ugliness abate. I offer my opinion in a effort to promote real understanding of each other and our views.
    May blessing find you all.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
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