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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.

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[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. Doug

    When I was younger, growing up on Long Island, my brothers and I went to a Christian Private School – all white. I think there were 4-5 black children from Kindergarten thru the fourth grade. My younger brother, who was in Kindergarten, was told by my mother he was black (he was light skin) during a conversation and he cried profusely, refusing to believe he was black, but white like is class mates.

    Another story. While in the 5th grade (I was now in a public predominately black school) my next door neighbor (also in the fifth grade; dark skinned girl) applied bleaching cream to her face, damaging her skin.

    These are sad stories that scare me because I have beautiful boy (age 5) whose on a 6-7 year old academic level, but I'm concerned about marco social forces and the racial construct of the country.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  2. Liberty

    I imagine that the discussion with his son needed to be had, but it is also a sad trueism that it is within the black race itself that the skin color distinctions are often first made. Yes this is learned and generational behavior, but really the pride in being black will come, when black parents stop talking about color.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  3. Erin

    Thank you for sharing this very personal story. It was touching regardless of the race of the reader.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  4. Dave

    You had a very good article and I enjoyed reading it very much. I feel we all get caught up with race as a color, rather than realizing that there is only one race, human that matters. My daughter has experienced racism herself at her young age of 12, being told by other children that they can't be her friend because she isn't hispanic or black (she is white). We have taught her much same as you have your kids, that its not the color, but the way we act and treat others that matters. Only we can control how we behave. Hopefully mankind will mature as a whole and only then will we be able to achieve the greatness that God has given us the ability to reach.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  5. Lisa, Missouri

    This is wonderful and I'm so excited that we are having this discussion.

    I have noticed that this new generation (the younger leaders of tomorrow) is not that concerned with the color of one skin.

    I believe racism is going to become a thing of ones self- moving forward. He who holds on to it in their heart or perceives it in their mind will eat of it own torment. But again the world and the people in it is moving forward we don’t have time.

    We have a greater issue at hand rich vs. poor fear vs. perseverance is what’s separating us at a greater degree now.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  6. Jack

    In the spirit of communication providing the road to unification, the wise words of Pastor Jakes are most apt. Just in case one's heart is hardened to the extent that it doesn't see the pain that prejudice taking the form of off-hand remarks causes adults, please consider the children and how injurious it is to their self-images. Let those thoughts be in the forefront of your minds as you interact with all persons, as you strive to live good lives. This is the expression of a white male who is speaking to himself as much as to others.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  7. Kisimir

    Thank you TD Jakes,

    I am African and have just moved to the US with my three year old daughter. She was born into a completely black community but she is now the only black kid in her class. She is bewildered by all the colours of people she sees around and wonders if something has gone wrong.

    My prayer is that she will grow up to understand our diverse world. That she will grow up to give and take from society and that the world will love her back. This can only happen if I walk with her through every step of it.

    God bless us all.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  8. Joe

    As a father myself, I can see how these single moments, like a conversation, can have a profound effect on a child's life. It's cool to hear that your kids still mention that conversation, and I bet it helped their self-esteem and the "dream of themselves" considerably. Everything counts and has meaning, and individuals really do make a difference.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  9. grandma in Illinois

    Bishop Jakes – that was wonderful!
    I was raised in a small town with no diversity, but raised my children in the early years in a military setting with much diversity but once we moved 'home' had not prepared them for the lack of diversity. My middle daugher came home from school very upset, ' Mom all the teachers are white and almost all the kids are white, isn't that just a little boring?' Out of the mouths of babes! She was in 4th grade and was missing her best friend from 3rd grade who happened to be black. I apologized for not preparing them for the changes, and said 'Yes, it is boring. I had forgotten this aspect of the town. Maybe we can join some activities in X town where it doesn't seem so boring.'

    July 23, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  10. Daniel J. Olexia

    My Dear Bishop Jakes, I,m going to print your message and hang it in my house. Thank You for being You. God bless. Dannyo

    July 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  11. MP

    Point well taken but you need to consider this is a man that make a living off the poor. He use god as an excuse take these poor folks monies then write some nice blog or essay to show that he feel your pain. Come on people get a clue, while you are busting your butt everyday to get by, this guy is talking you into giving 10+% of your hard earn income to the "church". A slick talker is these money hungry preachers is.

    MP

    July 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  12. sandy in NYC

    Rev. Jakes:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story and in such an elegant manner.

    Sandy

    July 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  13. Jenn

    I love reading your blogs. I wonder though what about mixed race children. How do we teach them pride in both backgrounds? It seems like they are often made to choose which race they fit with. Usually it's chosen for them them based on how dark their skin tone is. I want my children to be able to have pride in both their white and black backgrounds.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  14. David

    There is a lot of wisdom in your words.

    Racism still exists, but it is a minority of people on both sides and goes in both directions. It is funny how so few people get so much attention and are characterized as the norm. Both sides in that issue are wrong... We are all children of the same God (who is colorless). Nowhere in the Bible does is say that whites, blacks or whoever are superior or inferior.

    We all make due with our opportunities and we need to be content in our lives. You could have everything you need or more, but if you are not content, you feel as though you have nothing and need more. That is why we are a nation of debt; we are never content and buy more and more. Americans, in what we call poverty, have more than most of the rest of the world.

    In college, I was denied scholarships because I was male and I was denied other scholarships because I was white. Although certainly not because of my grades, I did not complain; I just worked harder to support myself. I control what happens in my life and I choose JOY. Everyone should have this attitude.

    During World War II, my father (4 yrs old at the time) and his family had their farm in Latvia and everything else that they owned taken by the Germans (and then again by the Russians). They spent years in a German displaced persons camp before they were sponsored by an American church to travel to the good old USA. My father and his family never say one word against the Germans or the Russians. He has never demanded reparations from either country. Those people are gone now, just as the slave owners are gone as well.

    Even my father, who actually came from Latvia, does not call himself a Latvian-American. If he felt that his Latvian heritage made him who he was, he would go back to Latvia. We talk about his history and keep it alive, but it does not make me who I am, it is just our history. This is the same with coining yourself African-American. If anything, you are American-African.

    We are all American and we need to live and work together to better our country, not divide it further by focusing on what makes us different.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  15. Law

    To assume the rest of the country is like California is a gross mistake. Having lived on the east coast and the midwest all my life, I can tell you the feelings of minorities are often overlooked and unappreciated in a majority world. The outcome is the formation of special interest groups and other provisions which are designed to aid minorities achieve in many ways, but effectively drive a wedge further between them and the majority. One of my life long goals has always been to move to California because of the diversity and open mindedness I often experienced when visiting. Contrarily, when coming back to the east or midwest I hear nothing but condemnation for the west! Most reasons stemming from the idea that there are "too many mexicans" or some other race based reason. The time needs to come when the entire country realizes we are all made equal, and need to treat each other as such. Race has no bearing on who you are, how you act, how pretty you are, etc. Individuals are what is important because individually we are all different. There are beautiful people of all races, smart people of all races, criminals of all races, and much more. Unfairly skewing the perceptions of an entire nation to prefer one over another needs to end if we are ever to end these racial tensions.

    When is there going to be more famous hispanics in mainstream media?
    When are there going to be more black actors in leading roles that arent considered "black movies"?
    When will more whites break into hip hop??
    When are more asians going to get the spotlight?

    July 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  16. tokunbo akinboboye

    we here at the other side of the atlantic in europe that is supposed to have gone beyond racism will relate more to your story sir. our labours – manpower is accepted grudgingly, but we are made to feel as unwelcomed as ticks on a dog all because of skin colour. an hospital in nederland gladly accepted my blood for their blood bank, but their government is making every effort to throw me and the likes of me out of their society, that is the world we live in and for those denying this, well they are like the proverbial ostrich

    July 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  17. Zoey

    First, let me say that I do not think the term African-American should be used anymore for two reasons. There are many people who are black who have ancestry coming from other places than Africa. Secondly, the very fact that there is a hyphenation automatically separates a group of people from another group. I prefer to use American. As far as holding up people of different skin tones and genders from the usual who have made successes of themselves I do agree that excellence should be acknowledged, but when you only showcase the other groups it makes it seem as if this is a miraculous thing rather than something which is attainable to all. And as far as accountability goes it should be for each individual person NOT for entire groups.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  18. Mesheba Williams

    jc- You totally ignored the point of the story and the feelings of a young black man, you point to YOUR experience in ONE city in America and it's obvious you don't have any Hispanic friends, maybe you should watch Univision or Telemundo to hear the opinion of Mexicans. You totally missed the point and quickly dismissed a young child's anguish, typical person with blinders on, 50 years ago we were living with segregation we have fought long and hard, we must continue to fight. it must be nice to ignore history and how it affects black people and Mexicans. when I was a child in Boston, protesters threw rocks at our buses because they did not want their children to go to school with blacks, I was in elementary, many of the protesters were white women holding babies. These protesters are still alive, just like Mark Walhberg, grew up with racist parents but magically their feelings have changed in 30 years? I don't think so. I lived in SoCal, it was three years behind Boston academically, yet all of my white classmates thought I was in Honors classes because of my skin color, I went to Boston Latin Academy one to the top one hundred high schools in America and transferred to a SoCal high school. Even though I received all A's my counterparts thought I could just put black on a college application and I would automatically get in , this was in 1988 and they thought any Mexican with good grades was exceptional. What is crazy is that these people felt nothing in sharing their racist opinions like it was offensive. we still have to fight because people don't listen to our thoughts, feeling and do not see us as individuals, like you for lumping all hispanics together.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  19. Lisa

    To JC-The reality is that most of America does NOT live in California, and unfortunately, racism, both subtle and overt, is still alive and well in other regions of the US. Denial of these attitudes does nothing to eradicate them.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  20. CD

    JC. You are missing to point of the article. That is exactly why most Americans refuse to discuss race relations today. Some don't get it and others do but don't have the patience to help others along the path. First, ask a minority how it is to live in a country that hasn't really embraced other races until the 1960s. Will you do that? Talk to any Hispanic, Asian or African-American that you past in LA and ask them how they feel growing up in America. Then, ask yourself, how would I feel, as a minority, in their shoes in the same situation. TD Jakes isn't focusing on one race. He is simply stating how minorities feel that they are not accepted because of the systemic wrongs they they have faced in the past and now. These wrongs may include people being treated differently based on race or ethnicity. TD Jakes talked about himself and his race since that is what he is familiar with. He can't speak from the Hispanic or Asian perspective. I can pretty much predict that the other minority groups may not have the same story, but a similar one. JC, it may be easy for you to say blacks need to demand a culture of self respect, but do you see any things on TV or in the past American history that has disrespected majority culture? Of course not. All disrespect has occurred to minority cultures. So it may be easy for you to state the above comment, but until you walk a mile in a minority person's shoes, I don't think you will fully understand. And even if you are a minority, you miss the point that everything in society is geared toward someone's agenda, preferences and likings, so the question is, whose agenda is being played out in America? In order to be accepted, I have to look like ..., or be like .... Lastly, as you can see in LA, opportunity is not afforded to all Americans. Just ask the African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics is LA whom you might past everyday. Ask them about their opportunities in their neighborhoods.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  21. Bill from Boaz, Al.

    Rev. You handled it fine. It is a shame,though, that our kids have to experience the hardships of life,especially when they seem so cruel and stupid. I hope as time goes by,we all spend more time with our kids teaching them not to be unkind to others. Your particular story was one pertaining to being Black,but these types of prejudices happen to all kids every day. There always seems to be a "bully" or "click" in every town,in every grade level,that does nothing but sit and figure out ways to lift themselves and put others down. It can be a Black thing,but it doesn't necessarily have to be. If I had a nickle for everything each of my kids cried about, I'd be rich. My brother is fairly rich,he's a banker.......he married in to a banking family........but ,I am just a regular working guy living from pay check to pay check. One of my daughters went to visit my brother for a few days,and after enjoying all of the yaught rides,the confort of a mansion,talk of the lodge in Aspen,and where they were vacationing next month,my daughter returned ,and in no uncertain terms,informed me she wanted Uncle Terry to adopt her. Yeah! It hurts! Bad! But understand,hurt is something we all live with every day. If you would rather I spoke of a Black story that brought tears,I have one of those too!- My daughter,while attending Middle school,tried out for cheerleader,and she was in the top eight,voting wise,she placed 7th. I had to explain to her why she got bumped,because there was not enough Black cheerleaders.........the bottom two got knocked off the squad in order to be more fair to the African-Americans who ,also , tried out ...........it was ok! It was fair! I agree! But it none the less hurt!!!!!!! and she cried and cried! We need to all realize and dialogue more,so that both sides know that hardships,and hurt,knows no color,although it can be the source occassionally,of hurt. Maybe we wouldn't have an Asian kid,as we've witnessed lately,,feeling misunderstood,and wiping out 8 or 10 other kids before shooting himself,if we dialogued more and taught our kids better than to make fun or alienate a child,regardless of color. We need to teach them to be more tolerant and kind. It starts at home!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  22. Alex

    Bishop Jakes,
    I also grew up in West Virginia, and as a man of color was in a similar situation as your son. I can remember thinking many times that I wished I were white so that the kids would like me more at school. Even as I entered junior high and high school, I attempted to assimilate into the predominantly white culture, and had few black friends. In high school, my self-esteem took a blow, because I always felt like I was on the outside of a lot of the social circles. Once in high school I was even called the n-word at the cafeteria. My mother (who is of much lighter skin tone than me) was also outside a lot of the parents' social circles. As a consequence, I didn't date much in high school. I was successful academically and fairly successful athletically in high school, so I basically got to choose where I wanted to attend college. I chose to attend a good school on the West Coast, and noticed that everything was drastically different. My mother and my stepfather no longer live in West Virginia, but whenever I go back, I have a very different perspective than what I did in high school. In short, I think that one of the reasons that West Virginia is so different is that it has a fairly homogenous population. According to a 2006 estimate, West Virginia is almost 95 percent caucasian, while California is 76 percent caucasian. When you have such a little minority population, the views of that population often take a back seat, and there are often situations where the attitudes don't necessarily arise out of hatred, but out of ignorance. For example, I'm sure it's not uncommon that a person growing up in rural West Virginia spends years on end without seeing any minorities. With that in mind, whenever I meet new people or travel to new places in West Virginia, I would subconsciously think "I'm representing my race whenever I go somewhere" because it might be the first or last time in a long time that someone sees a person of color, and it could affect their perception. To this day, when I am the sole minority in a room full of caucasian people I tend to act differently (for example, I'm EXTRA hesitant to eat chicken or watermelon, or do anything remotely stereotypical). I guess the whole point I'm trying to make is that I think having positive experiences with minorities is essential in ending racial stereotypes in this country, and around the world, for that matter.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  23. Jeff Jones

    A good message presented in a manner that those of us who do not have the same experiences can understand. One comment late in the piece, however, struck an off cord with me ... "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." It seems to me that the parental role and responsibilty should be in the forefront and not a "last defense."

    July 23, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  24. Frank- Raleigh, NC

    Bishop Jakes,

    Great writing. I applaud your story. I appreciate your honesty. I did want to say to JC that the black community is endeavoring to embrace all of the opportunities that the US is affording all Americans. I think that I can help you here. When the captives from Columbia were freed and then began to discuss what happened in the jungles of Columbia to them. Americans were appalled! Imagining people tied together by the neck, beaten, under-fed and sleeping on the ground was hard to fathom, BUT when it comes to facing what has happened to blacks in America we need to "embrace" opportunities. JC, please put yourself in Black America's shoes and imagine being taken from your home, sold, beaten, raped, hanged, burned, whipped and made to eat inferiority for hundreds of years and then re-write what you wrote today. Paradigm Shift...........Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

    In love,

    frank

    July 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  25. Brett

    as a young white man in America, it does me good to hear this. Thank you for sharing! God bless

    July 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  26. Flip Spiceland

    Right on!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  27. Stan

    Bishop Jakes,

    Yes, we all are different. I try to teach my children who we are. If we are in Christ Jesus, we are citizens of heaven. We are pilgrims passing-by. We spend 50-90 years in this body whether it is black, brown or white.

    Where will we spent eternity? A child of God will have a new body, a glorious one. Let us wait for that rather than worring about the temporary body.

    Stan, NJ

    July 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  28. Frank R. Chittock

    While many of us understand the differences we have in the race issues I wonder if we are not missing something. I am white of English decent – hopefully not proud nor ashamed. I am married to a Scottish girl [and I understand the English hate the Scottish]. I, however, love my wife of 61 years. My question is that why I've never been called an English American. I am taught {Bible} that I am to love my neighbour as I love myself regardless of my neighbour's color. In my opinion we should address blacks, whites, reds and yellows simply as : "American." It just may solve the problems our youth inherit early in life. The important issue is: "Where does our LORD Jesus Christ fit in the picture?" I would hope brother Jakes would agree.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  29. Just Me N WV

    Most of the prejudice I have ever received being a dark skinned Black person came from older Black people in my family. I was raised to believe that White folks saw all Black folks the same and treated them accordingly. After all, a slave in the house is still a slave.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  30. joe yarborough

    Will any of this really matter 10,000 years from now if humanity is still around? Only then will we be able to love and care for each other as God intended for us to do.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  31. Bill

    T.T. Jakes for President!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  32. tom

    How about a red head who doesn't want to stand out against other whites with extremely fair skin and loads of freckles?

    The problem with these types of conversations is the group initiating them may not have thought about what other people who are 'different' are feeling.

    In short, everyone feels out of place no matter race, creed or color. Frankly, I'm tired of hearing it. How about a blog for all people who feel alone rather than us feeling alone.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  33. MH

    Bishop Jakes,

    I can identify with your son and his reaction to the color of his skin. My complextion was always to light for the other black kids in my neighborhood; however, I was also, to dark to be challenging the white kids in the classroom. I never really knew where I fit in, until one day I decided it was okay to just be me.

    A value your honesty.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  34. Mina K.

    Although I acknowledge that African-Americans are minorities in the US, I disagree that they are "minorities in a majority world." It is all a matter of perspective and depends upon how you define your world. The US is not the "world" and I encourage African-Americans to stop distancing themselves from Africa and instead to educate themselves about the many positive things about the continent. Do not limit yourselves by thinking that your history starts with slavery. African history which precedes US slavery is also your history and learning about it may be the starting point to developing a sense of pride and identity. Irish-Americans do it, Asian-Americans do it, Italian-Americans do it. There is no reason why African-Americans cannot join in as well.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  35. JWilson

    When Mr. Jakes child said “I don’t want to get blacker, Daddy!” “Because if you are black they hate you more.” was he refering to how whites treated him or how other "light skinned" blacks treated him? The "skin tone" has been an issue in the "black" community for years too.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  36. Eliout F. Loving

    Mr. Jakes, we live in that world everyday. I pray everyday for black
    children who think that way. Thank you for sharing that emotional comment.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  37. Dave

    Wel spoken!!!!

    We all deal with the issues of racism and prejudice either as a victim or perpettrator and it can't be overstated that we learn from our enviornments. My experiences in the USMC as a young man did much to increase my understanding and change my beliefs. Many times a Dark Green Marine( There's only one color of Marine and that's green though it is understood there can be different shades) and I would have conversations about race, bigotry and many other topics. It was often a debate but it made me think and questiona and eventually modify my beliefs to accept tolerance for that of what is different. It's not that we were friends we actually didn't like each other but we were able to talk openly and honestly. I can only add that it's easy to become a racist, regardless of your race, when there is no diversity. It takes knowledge and understanding to overcome and for that I thank Tommy John from Cleveland for helping me see things in a different way so many years ago.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  38. Cleve - GA

    Very true and profound message for all people to read. It's a shame people don't realize that young boys and girls who are/may be gay go through something very similar to this that the Jakes' twins experienced with the color of their skin. The struggles of any minority group have one thing in common and that is the way they are treated based on one reason or demographic. So, I say that remember this the next time politicians and clergy try to use the gay card as a wedge issue!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  39. Leandro Montesino

    That is a wonderful story Bishop Jakes - and I thank you very much for sharing it with us. You are undoubtedly a great man and I'm certain your sons are model members of society just like yourself. As a person of hispanic origin, I certainly know that while there may be challenges posed by looking different than the majority, triumph and success will always follow if you stay on a steady, good. wholesome, and devoted course.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  40. JP- Fairfield, CT

    This is exactly what we need to hear in these last days, for " if the trumpet gives an uncertain sounds who shall prepare himself for batle."

    July 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  41. Vernon

    I have a daughter that is not mine by birth but she wanted me to be her daddy so I took on the role. She is Bi- racial and is having the same problems with self image. She was raised mostly around the white half of the family til I came around. She is always sad that her hair is curly, and thinks that everyone is always looking at her or asking her questions about why she is brown when her mom is white. Its very hard to explain to that her being different is a blessing, but the story just told has given me a lot of insight to what kind of discussions I should have with her. Thank you

    July 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  42. Cielo

    I really appreciate this piece of wisdom. However, I see that you left out an important piece that we ALL have to deal with daily, and that is the image of the "successful black American." Do you know what that is? Gangsta, rap artists, and drug dealers. Look at the "popular culture" of such black entities as BET and you'll see that a great portion of black America's destruction is self-induced. The rap lyrics are deaming to women, are full of violence and degradation, exhalt anarchy and anti-social behavior. Spokesmen such as Quarnel X actually HURT the cause of black America because he is a racist that favors anything BLACK as opposed to true, color-blind JUSTICE.

    We all far to go to make our world more fair. As a multiple-time minority myself (woman, hispanic, lesbian and non-christian), I KNOW what the messages are that bombard us daily. True self-esteem of the kind you mentioned is crucial. I pray that we may ALL work together to share POSITIVE images, histories and hopes for ALL humanity, no matter who they are for indeed, we are ALL wonderously made.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  43. JohnnyGunn

    Of course, everything you say about your sons' feelings apply equally to GLBTI people.

    The internalized self-hatred is combined with the most virulent and hateful messages from the larger society, as well as a near-daily dose of homophobia among peers in school just as the person is recognizing his or her sexuality.

    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.

    You said it yourself.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  44. Leroy

    Thanks Bishop. Right on!!!

    Leroy Allentown, Pa

    July 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  45. CAROLYN PETERSON,THIBODAUX,LA

    Thanks for sharing Bishop Jakes. May God continue to bless you .

    July 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  46. Melissa (Powder Springs, GA)

    Thank you Bishop Jakes. Very Insightful.

    To JC-Los Angeles – I'm happy that your experiences have been positive. I would like to clarify what I refer to as the majority... If you walk into many of the corporations and look in the offices of the folks making decisions for those companies, you will notice that, while California may be 50% hispanic, this percentage does not carry to the folks making decisions.

    When the professional environment doesn't mirror its community, that is the minority experience. It goes beyond the taunting of peers in grade school and continues to inequities in the workplace as adults. When you work hard and expect equitible treatment and don't receive it, it is disheartening.

    I've had success but I have also experienced racism in the workplace. This is why this conversation is still relevant. Your insights will hopefull add another layer to a deep discussion.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  47. Fed -Up

    To JC-Los-Angeles

    VERY WELL WRITTEN!!!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  48. Kate

    Thank you! We are currently going through exactly the same experience and have nowhere to turn to. It's completely hearbreaking. Our darker skin son seems to be more impacted than our ligher skin son. Currently me and my husband are thinking of selling our home (to buy a smaller condo) and travel the world to show the boys how diverse the world is but we are totally conflicted about selling our dream home. I am not sure if there's some kind of website or anything like that geared toward a younger black child (especially boys). If anyone has any ideas information .. please please share. We are desparate. Thank you!!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  49. ian

    I appreciate this piece as a credible point of view from someone who has first hand experiences regarding racial issues. For many people who dont know you; this blog can speak volumes of your wisdom, and I personally admire the writing for its choice of words and vocabulary. Just to add to the overall awareness of these issues you're trying to promote; I'd like to comment that an African American family relocating to a majority "white" community, can be viewed as an abandonment or very subtle but hurtful message to inner city youth. If we as a society are to encourage cultural pride and acceptance across the board; we need to have leaders such as yourself setting a good example to those, still "left behind" in poverty struck urban areas. We need to work hard to better those areas, and those schools. The lone successful black family moving to "white suburbia" never sets a good example, and never encourages healthy competition or pride. It insteads contributes to the very same low self-esteem and self worth issues we are discussing here.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  50. Lorraine

    Thank you Pastor for sharing such a powerful lesson in loving self. My own young son has difficulty with being "Spanish". Of course the tone set for my Puerto Rican culture is a bit different, but not by much. We are faced with bigotry for knowing two languages and daring to speak them. We are treated as if we think with an accent (although we don't speak with one). I will share your wonderful testimony with my son. Thank you.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
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