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. Jim Stockstill

    Thank you Brother Jakes. We have had those heartfelt conversations with our son (Luke) who is seven. All men are created equally and the color of a person’s skin does not matter – our creator loves all of us. Growing up in the Deep South, where former generations did not think in these terms, there are many Caucasians that are now teaching their children the same truth you shared with your two sons. May you, the First Lady and family continue in the favor of our "one" Father.

    Jim Stockstill

    July 23, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  2. John

    The fact that CNN has created a forum for a long neglected topic like racism is something that all Americans should appreciate. Sharing stories like this and making it accessible to people who may have never imagined such a scenario, is the first step towards making race irrellavent.

    To Anderson Cooper, CNN and Bishop Jakes-Keep up the good work!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  3. Kimberly Hargrove

    What a wonderfully written commentary! Amen Amen!!! I am a white woman and as a woman have suffered from discrimination as well-sometimes for being a woman and sometimes for being white. This is a truly commanding article that all people of all color should read and instill the teachings in all of our children.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  4. Pat

    I am a white mother of three. This story reminds me of a situation that occurred when my then three year old daughter noticed another girl of color. She asked me why she was black and my daughter was white. I explained exactly what the reverand had said. God made her exactly how He thought she would be the most beautiful. This then made my daughter very angry, and she insisted that she wanted to be black. Her heart and mind are still racially open, and I am truly thankful. I have family in the Deep South and other areas that are still blatantly racist. I have fought a lifelong fight to show equality to all, and am glad to see it is growing in my children as well. May everyone out there work together and start listening to differences. There is nothing wrong with being different than the one next to you, just remember you that you are also different from everyone else.
    Pat, Newberg , OR

    July 23, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  5. Cassandra King

    Bishop Jakes, thanks for sharing that story, I only wish my husband would read this, because within our marriage I leave with internal pain I am a dark skinned woman, but he is always commenting on how beautiful the fair skinned woman is, he is so color blind, and my only thought is why did he chose me, it really makes me feel so insecure, i am so tired of hearing him say that is a beautiful red woman, I always comment to him and say we are all black people why must you refer to a woman as red.... I love my husband but it is painfully to know prejudice.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  6. greg

    I am not a follower or fan of T.D. Jakes. But this was great commentary. Drastic times call for drastic measures. To help fight the inferiority complex we need a to do a public education 180. No more George Washington and Abe Lincoln. When is the last time that has helped anyone to get a job? We need to teach black history to black kids. Imagine a white kid going to school and recieving 95% of history lessons from black culture. White parents wouldn't stand for it. A white kid only being taught black history. Well they would be right to not stand for it. And black parents shouldn't stand for the white world image given to young black children. Teach them about themselves so that they can respect themselves. They are not just descendants of slaves they are descendants of Pharoahs, Kings, Queens. Teach them the truth!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  7. angie

    Amen to that,and it is true that in this world we live in today,our children both young and old need to know how important it is to be yourself regardless of color.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  8. O.A.

    When i read this it always makes me reflect on my own growing up experiences. My parent ( mother ) was so busy trying to survive that she never had the time to doing any self love for herself or her children. its hard to be an adult when you have never had a mentor
    to show you how its done or what it means to Love your family when you don't know that side of life. I truly understand what it means to
    Love Yourself.. My father Lord Jesus Christ has been the only person to truly love me and to show me what self love truly is...Jesus Christ
    is the only Father I've ever known...Bishop I admire your wisdom.
    I know that your children are blessed to have a father that is there
    for them and truly express that love towards them.. God continue to
    bless and enrich our lives as a people!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  9. Amanda Handy

    Thank you for your commentary. As a parent, it touched my heart deeply. I've had that conversation numerous times with my own children who are all biracial and all have the same father. I learned my own lessons about the varieties of skin color just by having those 3 children who all have the same parents and all have different shades of skin color. How their peers related to them growing up I believe has influenced their personalities. My daughters are more accepting of and accepted by black culture. My son, who looks more Caucasian than anything, has a mixture of friends of all races and his interests include things in both so-called 'white' and 'black' culture. My youngest is 16 and I'm still learning every day along with them.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  10. Cathy Robinson-Frend Fairfield, CT

    AMEN!!!!! Bishop Jakes
    I pray I will remember this teaching long after this moment is gone and teach my children and grandchildren well.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  11. David

    I am with JC down below, especially his last paragraph. Honestly, I am tired of racism but get tired of the "woe is me" mentality. We all have issues regardless of color. I mean if CNN put "White in America" they would all be called racists. It should go both ways. All people should stop using race as a crutch and make your own way in the world. I see a black man ride a 545i BMW past me and think, "Now there's the white man keeping him down." Let's move on shall we and all get past the hate.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  12. brent

    There is a fine line between pride and arrogance, I believe that you are a man able to teach his children to walk that line. Be proud of your heritage, but you should also teach them to be proud of other peoples cultures as well.

    Together, all of humanity has taken many steps forward together but we have so many more to go...

    July 23, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  13. nikki

    thank you bishop i think we needed that ....

    July 23, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  14. Pastor Mike - WV

    Bishop Jakes,
    I enjoy your ministry, your books, and the stories from your heart. I have always been white and in the majority, but I haven't always been a Christian. We must teach our children to be proud of who they are no matter the color of the skin they are in. We must also be conscious of the fact that this culture's prejudice is based in more than race. Everything that makes us unique tends to cause a devide, or a separation from "Normal". I am teaching my kids to be Christian, and I know what judgement/persecution they will face.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  15. JosephJoshua_Colorado

    Very inspirational real life account....open communication is key to any society that is serious about not self destructing. May we honor all humans...dark skinned & light skinned; in the womb & out of the womb; rich and poor; as well as all those whose voice is dim in a world of pundits....Grace & Truth.

    Focused on Eternity....Living in Reality,
    JosephJoshua T.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  16. Stanley Kimatu

    I migrated from Africa 13 yrs a go and it is stories like these tha help understand where blacks have gone through. The neat thing about it is the positive tone I hear. Comparing what I hear.read and what I see today, things have changed dramatically. We need to get this information to the neighborhood that would rarely be reached by this articles and programs like the one on CNN...because we spend too much time on BET the rest hearing a lot of negative from the parents.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  17. Maude

    Most villians,witches and the ungodly portrayed by hollywood has black hair & dark skin. It is no wonder African-American children develop a "sense of inforiority complex" about their skin colour.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  18. ADM -- TX

    JC of Los Angeles, all power to you for being optimistic and wearing rose-tinted glasses when it comes to diversity. But reality has a way of slapping one upside the head: you learn super-fast when you aren't a white male. This piece reflects precisely that difference, between the ideal and reality.
    Bishop Jakes, Amen and Thank You for sharing your gift. More, please!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  19. Cathy Robinson-Frend Fairfield, CT

    AMEN!!!!! Bishop Jakes I pray that I will continue to remember this long after this moment is gone and teach my children and grandchildren well that they may do the same.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  20. Mario J

    “Because if you are black they hate you more.”

    Just have to consider the irony here. When in school, it was almost exclusively the blacks who tormented others with hate and racism, showing it to many of us at an unbelievably young age. It was almost exclusively always the blacks who harassed and beat up the others, and this pretty much continues throughout all ages in our society. Many of us had horrifying experiences being tormented by blacks, which continued throughout school. Black gang violence (blacks attacking others in mass numbers) has become a horrifying normality in our society.

    People don't learn to dislike blacks because they are darker. The only reason people of other races avoid blacks in mass numbers is from lessons they have well-taught us.

    Blacks are responsible for their own doings, and for the subsequent consequences.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  21. Jeff

    We need more T. D. Jakes

    July 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  22. Mike in San Antonio

    What an uplifting commentary. I have always enjoyed listening to you and your insight. Speaking as a white man who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time during riots in the late 60's, I can honestly (and ashamedly) admit that for a while, I was prejudiced. It took my blind friend to shock me into reality. While I was healing from the attack, I aksed him "What do you think about all this Black stuff?" (Maybe not in those words at the time). His answered floored me and I have NEVER forgotten it. He said "I don't know, Mike, everyone is black to me; I don't have the luxury of sight to know if I'm going to like some one or not."

    Oh were we all to be "blind" like my friend. Blind to color, size, shape, religion, politics, and all the other distractions that keep us away from being the best we can be. I have tried to live my life "blind" since then. I may not have always done so, but I would like to think I've done OK.

    God bless you and your family; God bless us all.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  23. James Wilson

    Not a word about the very pronounced color preferences within black culture, whether here or on the continent of Africa.
    How long it is before we recover from a losing hand is determined by how long it is before we honestly approach it. It would appear never is the answer.
    As long as you look to white people as the problem you are going to look to white people for the solution. Considering the people you have dictating solutions that are your white friends, you were better off with genuine enemies.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  24. Tom

    I want to give another take on this subject. I am a middle aged white man who grew up in a very racist household. I never heard anything good about black people so of course I was already skewed in the wrong direction. Shortly after turning 19 I moved to Minneapolis from a small town. This was a culture shock to say the least and I admit I was a bit leary. I started working in a nursing home with many black people and immediately found that what I heard growing up was wrong. I became freinds with many black people and really started seeing a side I have never heard about. What I also noticed though is how many black people hated me because I was white. They didn't know a thing about me yet hated me. I also noticed that the black people that I got along with acted totally different when other black people were around, they acted like they didn't know me. I understand that there is a lot of racism everywhere but I think we all need to look at both sides, white and black, to see where and how racism can be eliminated. Not all whites are racist and not all blacks are non racist.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  25. Gerre

    Amen Bishop Jakes.
    I am a white woman raising a grandson who is half black. He is currently 14 and we are deeply involved in studying black culture to ensure he knows how interesting it is and how much to be proud of there is. Even though there are a large number of black children and Hispanic children in his school system, studies don't highlight achievements of those cultures the way they do white cultures. He's a beautiful child, growing into a beautiful man. I want him to know and appreciate all of himself and to have pride in the achievements of both cultures that make up his ancestry.

    I hope I live long enough to see a time when black, white, brown, yellow, red refer to the color scale for artists and not to prejudices and assumptions.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  26. Tommy

    Thank you for your insights Brother Jakes. All children – black, white, brown, or otherwise – need to be affirmed in who they, children of God. Our diversity is what makes us special. And others diversity is what makes them special. I pray that as a nation "under God" we can finally get to the point that we recognize and applaud that fact.

    As a father, I also thank you for your raising of your children. Great job!!!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  27. Karen Thornville, OH

    Thank you, Pastor Jakes, for an insightful portrait of a black American family who overcame the prejudice that is woven into the fabric of our society. I truly believe that everyone should be treated equally regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, or disabilities; however, you do have to recognize that it is not just white Americans that are prejudiced against other races. Prejudice can and does exist within every culture. We must do everything we can do fight prejudice within our hearts and take action to ensure that everyone fees valued as a human being. Something as simple as a smile can lead to bigger changes. Do unto others.... that's where we all need to start.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  28. Therese

    I think the majority of what you staet is very true. However, I think it is true for all people. I have a son who has epilepsy, who has cried over being different than his classmates. As a loving parent, I explained to him how people are different no matter what color, religion, medical issue, or learning issue they may have. I think we as Americans need to embrace the fact that we are individuals, and we are all different, even if we are from the same racial class.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  29. tlgriggs

    JC – the comment is not outdated and I'm sure folks will be having this conversation 50 yrs from now. Diveristy in a population does not reflect diversity among classes and as such, people in positions of power. As long as black people are dispoportionately jailed, illiterate, high mortality rates, etc., there will be good reason for this discussion to take place.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  30. Jake

    The black community truly needs to comes to terms with itself. What most of us non-blacks don't realize is that there is discrimination within the community for the color of the skin! (high yellow? seriously, what the heck is that all about)

    As far as his son's comments, he could certainly meant "they", as in other black people. Unfortunately, most of us will read this and automatically assume that he was talking about caucasians. (please dad, I don't want to get blacker comment)

    There is one thing that truly bothers me however...
    There is an underlying assumption that if the roles were reversed, those in charge would treat others differently is truly the thing of fairy tales. If history has taught us one lesson, it is that man will continually treat those in the minority poorly regardless.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  31. Yvonne - New York


    I am reminded of a conversation I had with my son when he was 3 or 4 years old. He asked me, "Mommy, why are black people black?"

    Naturally I was VERY taken aback, considering the friends I had were every different race, color, shape and creed, so I knew I really had to think before I spoke. Quite honestly, I don't think it was a "color" question, but more of a "why are people not like me" question.

    I looked him in the eye and said, "It's because God likes diversity. Just think of how boring it would be if everyone looked like you. God created everyone differently so we would have so many different and wonderful people around us."

    Thank you, Pastor Jakes, for sharing your beautiful story with us. God bless you and your lovely family.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  32. Dorothy Davis Laplanche

    I'm so proud of you letting us into your world. It had never accord to me that you had ever had such a conversation with your children. Let me explain why I said this. Whn my grandson was born, not only did I count his fingers and toes, I cried because here was another african amercain male child born into a world that is hostile towards them. I have told my son about the struggles he would have to face, but I also encouraged him to be the best human being on the planet. I was not saved when I had this conversation with him, but I told him that God has never made a mistake and to never let anyone make him thinl his was one. Yes he will have to go the extra mile, but in the end it will be worth it for him to be a strong man. I could go on and on, but I will stop here. I'm so proud of you as a man, not sugar coating life and instilling in your sons that life is indeed what you make it.
    thank you

    July 23, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  33. Richard from Chicago

    Thank you Bishop Jakes for your story. It reminds me of the great responsibility I have as a father. I love our daughter and I take time to share stories of African American people so she knows fully that she can be proud of how God created her. Thank you for the inspiration.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  34. peter

    what a bunch of jive pastor. when you come right down to it we're all different and have had our share of difficulties.. this is not a purely black experience; every new group coming to the new world put up with discrimination and most have overcome it without the carping and whining inherent in the black public discourse of today. get over things and get on with it. i'm tired of the excuses.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  35. Cheryl Morris

    This makes me glad all over again that my three smart, beautiful, responsible children were raised to value every person as him/herself ,and to refuse to acept anything less than respect for themselves. That meant, of course, that they had to earn respect by their behaviors.
    One of the best ways to instill this is through parental behavior. Lavish love and praise, treat as humans with dignity, show acceptance and always, always challenge them to be more.
    Mine would rather fight than switch!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  36. MRB

    This is a really good essay. I remember my mother telling me this story from when I was just a little boy growing up in LA in the 70s. We were sitting next to a black, older woman at the airport waiting for a flight, I must have been like 5 or 6 then. Apparently I told my mother, in clear earshot of the woman, mommie, that woman has black skin and I don't like people with black skin. My mothers' re-telling of this event (though now at 37 I do not remember it) clearly demonstrates her shame and embarassment. She told the lady I am so sorry, and I can assure you that he did not learn that at home. And I surely did not learn it at home, I was raised solidly middle class white but I was ALWAYS taught by my parents to respect and love everyone. But it goes to show that somewhere our kids are learning STILL at young ages that people that look different are somehow less than we are. It's terrible.

    My son is 4 now and my wife and I already teach him at every opportunity to respect and be kind to everyone. That's probably not enough to nail the message home, but it's a start.

    Thanks for your thoughtful column.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  37. Mike Prather

    Keep on Sharing Bishop. Your Words bring healing and help to so many. But God has put us on an even playing field and we should step up to the plate and stop blaming others. Fathers especially black ones as senator Obama says should step up and the Nation will change. We have many teachers but so few fathers. As for me and my house my children will Know what it's like to have a true father. Black Amercia needs to wake up and take care of their /our own.


    July 23, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  38. Trejsian

    Coming from a predominantly black country, where all the people in influential positions looked just liked me and moving to the USA as a teen where I was suddenly a minority and all the challenges that came along with that branding was a major culture shock for me. I now have a family of my own and am learning to have these very same conversations with my children. My youngest was called a monkey and dirty in preschool!!!

    Bishop Jakes, thank you for sharing as I am totally unprepared for this and the more we talk and share the better it is for those like myself who grew up not having to have these conversations.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:59 pm |
  39. CR in NC

    JC, in Los Angeles I understand what you're saying. However, Bishop Jakes statement about "knowing how things can ne when you are a minority in a majority world" is very much relevant. Yes, it is true that the country is much more diverse now than in years past. But the balance of power still does not reflect this. Maybe things are difference in LA than it is in NC (which is a distinctively Southern state). The reality is that our country is definately much more diverse than ever...but most power is still held by the same. And, yes, there are some challenges associated with simply having darker skin, regardless of one's social class. Take it from this light skinned man working on his second graduate degree who is married to a light skinned woman with a graduate degree working in a Fortune 500 company.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  40. Van, Los Angeles

    In response to JC from Los Angeles. You obviously are not a person of color or you are hispanic, or you are too young to have experienced any part of the stuggle for racial equalilty or you would not have made such a snide remark about focusing on one group. In the next 50 years whites will be the minority because hispanics because of their illegal immigration, will be the majority. The notion that hispanics take the jobs that blacks won't do, should explain to you that blacks don't have to take those jobs because they are more educated, and have more self respect. Blacks are still in a struggle because they are not yet afforded the full respect that is given to others. If you don't understand the struggle from the inside out, I don't believe that you're qualified to speak on it.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  41. Chris in DC

    JC- It's easy to "not focus on one group" if you are a member of a group that does not have to undergo the unique experience of being black in the United States ... an experience that is not comparable to the experience of any other ethnic group in this county, because of the uniqueness of our heritage. To simply sweep our experience under the rug indicates a lack of perspective. The black community has tried to "embrace the opportunities afforded all Americans" since Reconstruction. Sometimes we have failed of our own accord. Often times we have succeeded. And often we have failed because those who could have helped us decided that equality meant keeping themselves comparatively better as a group while keeping the rest of us happy enough to get along - aka, Equality in Thought Only.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  42. jcp

    JC-Los Angeles, you missed the point... Bishop Jake was referring to his being a minority in a majority world...at a the time and place "his" family actually experienced at that time. I guarantee you, if other ethnicities that are "minorities in their majority" world; you would get answers, questions, dialogue, etc. This whole CNN "Black In America" show is only to enlighten us all on how things are from the Black American experience. It's not the total picture, it doesn't speak for all Black American experiences, but it gives the American people something to discuss and hopefully we (Americans) will let this be a beginning of listening to each other, understanding each other and loving each other as we would our immediate family and close friends. Until we can openly spend time with each other, regardless of skin color and other differences; this country will not unite.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  43. Wes Nielsen-Hemet, Ca

    Dear Dr. Jakes:

    I only hope that more white Christians read your remarks concerning the experiences your sons had growing up in a part of the US that was (is?) primarily white. I think the imperatives Christ laid out for us call us to honor every person God made as equal to each other person.

    Racial mistreatment of any sort is sin in God's eyes. And I think, pray, and hope that it is diminishing as time progresses.

    My family are white Canadians who came to LA in 1954. One of the first things my dad did was take us to a series of black evangelical churches there, to show us how varying types of Christians expressed their faith. Why did he do this? Daddy King came to his church in Vancouver BC in the late 1940s and spoke. My parents saw him as an ambassador from Christ and from that time forward they were changed inside. As was I by their example. My point? If you try to see people for who they are, below the level of pigmentation, they are all pretty much the same. They are people God made, and that makes them my brothers and sisters and friends, and in my case, my wife.

    I grieved that your sons had a rough time. We still have a lot of work to do. God bless you in your work as a teacher and as a preacher, and as a father. Even though your boys are in their thirties, they still need you.

    In Him,

    Wes Nielsen

    July 23, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  44. JH - New York City

    In reponse to JC-Los Angeles

    I agree with what you are saying but do not feel that Bishop Jakes' intention was to single out blacks as the only minority to go through struggles with their self image.

    His story reminded me of my own childhood, growing up as an Asian American in a predominantly white community and possessing those same sentiments that his children felt. After all, if you just replace the word "black" with brown or yellow or red, the article and message still remains identical.

    I believe that Bishop Jake wrote this article not to explain and express the turmoils specifically experienced by blacks, but rather used his personal story as an example to illustrate that the problems involving race need to be tackled by all groups of people in society.

    Bishop Jake – I commend and thank you for this beautifully written article and will be looking forward to seeing more in the future.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  45. A.S. Mathew

    While attending a seminary of 99% white people, I began to
    attend an Afro-American Church 38 years back. When my children
    went to school, they had a face lewd remarks from some of their classmates.

    But, I gave them motivations to keep on ignoring the offenses
    caused by others. Until we can see everybody, being created by
    the same God, this social disease can't be earadicated. Indeed,
    a lot of improvements have taken place during the last forty years,
    but still a long way to go. The children act in the public or school,
    based upon what they hear at home. When I was reached in the
    American life forty years back, this social disorder was the greatest
    shock of my life in a Christian nation. I have experienced that the
    educated people and people of social status are basically
    free from this disorder of any kind discrimination.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  46. Karin

    "The black community needs to embrace the opportunities afforded all Americans and demand a culture of accountability, success and self respect; anything less and we will be having these same discussions 50 years from now."

    You think we dont? I am sick and tired of people saying that the black community is not about accountability, success and self respect. YOU DON'T KNOW EVERY SINGLE BLACK PERSON IN THIS COUNTRY SO DON'T ASSUME YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE BLACK COMMUNITY. I agree that we have issues in our community, but it's assine to suggest that these issues only exist in the black community. You're going off of what you see in the news or on t.v. shows that do not always show the diversity within my very own community. People outside of MY COMMUNITY like to point out what is wrong within a society they have limited access to, whether by choice or not. I suggest people read Matthew 7: 1-5 and learn how to judge not.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  47. Daniella

    That's my Bishop right there!!!

    July 23, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  48. Jay

    I hope the black community will focus on other things beside race. I think the black community must be the most racist of all races since every discussion revolves around race.

    I don't even think of a person as being black or white. But once people bring up about this supposed burden of being black, I realize they are black.

    This attitude of making excuses is silly. Grow up and get a life.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  49. Margaret Lindsey

    I am a grandmother to a 3 yr old mixed son. He is truly a joy. My son is black and the mother is mixed with beautiful long blonde hair. I attend an all Black church and you should see the looks that I get as my husband and I bring him with us. I dare not ask the Mom to come because I'm so afraid that on any given Sunday, a 'Rev Wright' sermon may come from the pulpit. My older son experiened some awful things in College and never told me until he graduated. My younger son left a party early due to a confrontation that would leave a Black man paralyzed and nothing done to the white guys who did it. We can pray and talk and pray that things will get better. It is 2008 and these things remain today.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  50. Q

    JC I respect your comment, but the reality is although their are opportunities afforded to all Americans and we should all be accountable for our actions and our success or lack there of, the fact remains that not every place is like Los Angeles... I live in St Petersburg, FL which is a good mixture of cultures and absorbing from a variety of cultures, as a performer I still get the n* word at venues I perform at. In one bathroom stall it stated that "all 'the n word plural' must die"...I laughed at it because well its funny to me that people are still so pathetically archaic... but its still my reality...

    On another note we should appreciate that we can see the diverse colors that God & Mother Nature have bestowed upon us... The greens of the leaves... the browns and ivories of skin town... Because sight is a gift not a mechanism to be utilized for judgment or hatred...

    Thank you Bishop TD for spreading love and compassion not blame and solitude...

    July 23, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
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