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. Missi, VA

    AMEN! And thank you for sharing. I wish everyone could get past skin color and realize there is really only one race ~ human.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  2. Doug

    About 5 years ago I was blessed with a grandaughter. My daughter is caucasion. My grandaughter is dark skinned and has beautiful brown kinky curly hair. She is the product of a mixed race liason. Unfortunately, the father has not remained in her life. However, she's pure beauty and intelligence and verve. A vivid life force shining in every direction, physically attractive with a wondefull personality.

    However, I am well aware that as she grows up, somewhere along the line, someone will attack her for being "Black" or "dark" or different. I can't help thinking how ironic it is that a lilly white family like mine can come to fear and loathe racism and anti African American bias with new vigor by the appearance of such a gift.

    I hope I meet it with as much force and validity as you have Bishop.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  3. Bro Lee

    Thanks, Ms. Willams.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  4. dfm - North Carolina

    I think Pastor Jake was talking about his own experiences not trying to give an explanation for what all races are like. This is his quote:

    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.

    Unfornately, we may be have this same discussion 50 years from now.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  5. Cassandra

    JC I think you miss the point. What I believe he is saying is that our experiences even in the same city, neighborhood and school are different. The message from and for the majority can and often are damaging to those in the minority. It does not mean that because Hispanics and other groups have not begun to address the issue publicly that it is still not taking place. The determination of what is beautiful, acceptable and preferable is part of the socialization process and no one is exempt. The messages to our children do have to be countered and unfortunately it can affect their self esteem if left unchallenged. It goes beyond race and only honest admission of the problem and further discussion can move us away from this issue toward a workable solution.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  6. rjchloe

    Hi, I read the article and very much appreciated it. Being white married to a hispanic our children are dark eyed and have dark hair. Totally different from me. I have been asked if my children are adopted or if I am their nanny. I feel people that ask me that are ignorant. I live in Manhattan NY and would not want to live anywhere else. The diversity in the city is beautiful.

    Everyone needs to love themselves and know where they came from but I do not understand why knowing your culture would define you? Why do you feel your children were losing their identity living in a "white" neighborhood?

    Peace Love and Understanding!!!!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  7. nisigirl

    Thanks Bishop Jakes....I truly appreciate your wisdom and candor....I am not a "church goer", but I try life as my Grandmother taught me 56 year ago...Bishop Jakes your word keeps me inspired....thanks...

    July 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  8. Mike In Texas

    Bishop Jakes, I love to hear you preach on TV and the only fault I find is when the commercials come on! You preach the unaltered Word of God, and it is always uplifting to hear God's Words and Direction. But I cannot understand how you can back Barack Obama. It would seem that your soul is so thirsty to see a black man succeed that you have chosen to ignore all of the things he represents that are reprehensible to us all. He is fervently a backer of abortion, which is the murdering of God's children. He even voted to not save those who survived abortive procedures. He has voted for partial birth abortion, which is the most barbaric practice known to man. He is backed by people who are now in jail for their illegal practices and have given him special privileges regarding real estate. He has endorsed hate preachers who, unlike yourself, promote the evil hate in our society, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God's Changing Power. He says we need change, and it would seem that many, yourself included, are so desperate for change in their lives and in America that they will blindly follow a man who is very much like Lenin and Marx. All they can see is that he's 'Black like us.' That is despicable. It would be like Klansmen voting for someone because they were white. He is merely a wonderful public speaker. Barack has nearly zero experience and the White House is the worst place for on-the-job training. Barack supports everything that has held the black man down for over a century and only now, when he has made a few speeches telling fathers and others that they need to practice responsibility, has it changed at all. Insanity can be doing the same thing every time and yet expecting different results every time. Eastern Europe has departed from socialism and rejoices in their new-found freedom and yet Barack wants us to go into that same quagmire of socialistic practices. And who will pay for it? Invariably a bad policy affects those who are the downtrodden first. So blacks will suffer more loss of family life, more adultery, more abortion, more poverty and more affliction of every kind, while the Devil laughs.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  9. Derek from Bellingham, WA

    I found this article very educating and helpful in my life and my daughter's. I live in a predominately white city north of Seattle, WA although it is getting more diverse due to the College nearby. I have primary custody of my daughter who is half white and half black (I am white, mother is black) and I fear the day my daughter comes home hurt because of how words can affect people deeply. Being white I represent a view of white people in my daughter's eyes and try very hard to make her see that even though many people can be ignorant, there is a chance for equality and that there are people out there than do not buy into the superior/inferior scheme. I will need to reach out to her Mother to help in explaining that both of her ancestry has postives and negatives, but it is up to her to choose what kind of life she wishes to live. And that she will have to be strong and not let words hurt her. Myself nor her Mother will know exactly what she feels because neither of us are mixed Black/White.

    The truth is that beside skin color most people in America are all mixed. I am predominately German/Scottish. White to most, but I have met several people that are not American and they don't understand why we don't just tell people we are American especially since most of us no nothing of our countries of origin. It's possible someday that we will all end up as the vision was "a melting pot" and all be "mixed" including skin color. I'm sure America will find a way to still exploit and hurt eachother still, but it would be nice to be able to focus on issues together instead of segmented groups and polled against eachother staticized against eachother and constantly being compared. Even Obama is not black, he is black and white, but the media only refers him as the possible first "black" president. America needs this first step though and I can't think of a better candidate to represent what America really is and that is a melting pot that is not perfect and has seen both sides of the coin.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  10. denise

    Dr. Jakes,
    Let me tell you that in the Native American community it is the reverse. Children are more valued for the darker they are and more they look "Indian" and less white. Now the caucasian students did not see it that way as all of us in our family were treated badly due to our very obvious Indian sounding name. so that was a hurt that we learned to deal with in angry and vengeful ways. So when we went home the fair skinned children in our family of nine were deemed to have it easier in the white world so we were given less attention and not glorified with dance regalia. the darker skinned children were dressed out in regalia and paraded out in ceremonial dances, but not the fail skinned ones, less someone think we were white playing Indian. our own families hurt us more than any white person ever could.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  11. Ted said

    "The Whiteman is the most dangerous species on the planet"

    Oh really?

    But you'll keep your electricity, computer, telephone, eyeglasses, local modern hospital, corner Walgreens, refrigerator, flushing toilet, etc., etc. won't you?

    There have been lots of good and NON-racist white men.

    If you can't agree to that, YOU are racist.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  12. Cathy, Los Angeles, CA

    Powerful. Moving. Eloquent.

    Thank you.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  13. Brendan

    wondering if we could start discussing the how in regards to having these discussions and additionally what you feel about doing it on a community scale, why it would be relavent to involve others in the community etc...

    July 23, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  14. Larry

    THANKS CNN.........................................

    July 23, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  15. robbie T

    This story is Ridiculous .... My son is 6 and he gets upset when I tell him that he may be bald like me some day . I this guy is just over Exaggerating I doubt the kid fell to the groud sobbing ...give it a rest . I am so tired of "black in america" stuff and "racial dicussion" Hey here is a discussion racial discrimination in the US has been in sharp decline since the 1970's and realy is not a big issue anymore ..

    July 23, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  16. Nomo

    This is a very thoughtful piece. Thank you.

    My thought:

    Why does it appear that when 'whites' express pride in their heritage, we condone it as predjudice?

    July 23, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  17. LM

    Very insightful. The AA experience in the US is unique, JC. Yes, in America there are many nationalities. All with their own stories.

    Just look at the article on CNN.com about the family tracing its roots back to Africa. We know we come from Africa, but we don't know the country, the tribe or language! I mean this is not only true for AA, but also those of African descent in South America and the Caribbean.

    I have a nephew whose father is Latino. Now his father may be light, but a whole lot of the family is darker than me. Do you think any of them acknowledge having African roots? It's almost shunned by some of them. They can't deny it...Heck, a whole lot of slaves were taken to Puerto Rico, Dominic Republic, Uruguay, Panama, etc, etc!!!!!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  18. Sam

    Self – love, no matter what aspect we're fighting to accept is a life – long journey – but it is critical to start from the beginning.

    To JC's point, agree with your point that – by sheer numbers – the nation's diversity has expanded to include more than one "race". But I think living on the coasts have given us a squeed view on what the status of racism is in American as a whole. Step out into Kentucky, Missouri, or Iowa and you'll get a completely different idea of what the idea of diversity means.

    I'm not pinpointing any states in particular, I am referring to states that do not benefit from the diversity that is enjoyed on the coasts.

    It makes it even more important for people like Mr. Jakes to stand up and call on parents to plant those small seeds of self-esteem so they can navigate their way to being good members of society.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  19. brcr

    Dear Bishop Jakes,
    When my oldest daughter was 3 she noticed a skin color difference between herself, caucasion, and her cousin, African American / caucausion. She didn't tell anyone about this discovery. My daughter's warm-weather behavior for the following 9 years, was all about being in the sun. She would tell me almost defeated daily, "I'm just not there yet, Mom." "Just not where?" "As good as Nancy." Well instead of asking where she was trying to get to, I'd just tell her to keep working on it, practice makes perfect! Last year on a school bus ride home, which her cousin rides as well, Jess learned that her cousin was in fact 1/2 African American and 1/2 caucasion. She was fuming as she entered the house, throwing her books on the floor, and cornering me in the kitchen, "Mom, why didn't you tell me Nancy wasn't all white? Mom, she's half black, too! Did you know this?!!!" "Yes, I knew this, but I didn't think it was important. She's Nancy. Does it matter to you?" "Mooooom!!!! Yes it matters to me!I've been trying my whole life to get as dark as Nancy so I could be as pretty as she is! Here I thought there was something wrong with me!" And she sobbed. We discussed how God created her in His image. God had been planning for her since day 6. She looked exactly as God wanted her to.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  20. Christian

    Skin color (and it's hue) is a very difficult subject to approach, especially with our children. Often times in our culture, one not only experiences prejudice or bias by non-blacks, but also within our own race. As a child, I can recall many encounters with my own people making very harsh and hurtful remarks regarding the darker hue of my skin. And then to go on to my predominantly white school and experence further bias was unbearable at times. However, all of the credit (and my gratitude) goes to my mother and father who went the 'extra mile' to instill in me a strong sense of self-worth, self-love and self-acceptance. Thank you so much for sharing your story and reminding us to never underestimate the powerful impact we can have on our children by just taking time out to be 'parents'.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  21. Nicholas Jimenez

    Dr. Bishop Jakes,

    I wanted to thank you for bringing this difficult but needed dissuasion to light. After watching you on CNN, I have become inspired to accept myself for who I am and not for what I am. I personally look forward into the future with optimism, hoping that one day everybody regardless of their age, gender, race or ethic back round will be able to coexist in a world without hate and discrimination.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  22. Marty

    This may sound odd but I see this from both ends. My daughter is beautiful 12 year old bi-racial little girl and I can honestly say racism burns me to no end! I can't and do not stand for it in any shape or form. Hahaha, my daughter handles "akward" sitiuations much, much better than I do. It always seems there has to be at least one moron in every crowd though.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  23. yosef

    I am white and have neither straight blond hair, nor blue eyes. Skin color doesn't matter at all...love yours, or hate it...it's within the mind to reject stereotypes and negative self-images. Yes, others can berate you and yes, you can ASSUME that you're inferior...but you're not. Period. If you have an itch, you scratch it. If you hate yourself...just don't.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  24. Paul Carlson

    Dr. Jakes. You have raised some deep issues here and you have done it with your usual mixture of power and sensitivity.. Part of your message, however, probably should be discussed a bit further.
    Self esteem comes from a variety of sources. Much of it comes from the people you spend time with and value. Many young people derive their self esteem and identity from within their peer group. Some of our youths who are having the biggest problems have high self esteem and some who are doing well in some respects, (e.g., school) have low self-esteem. This has been the subject of some pretty good social science research.
    We have many young people who resistant school authority. Many of these do not seem to listen to their parents or their teachers. Their identity is wrapped up in being oppositional. Sometimes these youths link their opposition to their identity. So I think we need to explore ways to link ethnic pride to positive outcomes. Ironically, oppositional youths often have high self esteem and, in the process are working to assure their lack of educational success. Your message
    with its statement on behalf of more successful adults can help move us in that direction.

    Thank you.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  25. Reg

    We have to be careful, the self hate and lack of self esteem may originate from home not in the media and surrounding environment. Children often pick up on the subsurvient nature of the parents and begin to feel less than equal. If you want strong proud children you have to be a strong proud adult role model to your children. If you walk a look them straight in the eyes equal lifestyle for your children to see you won't have to talk half as much about being a black and proud individual. Are you black and proud? Maybe that's why your child isn't. Walk it as well as talk it.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  26. thor

    I have twin boys, mixed race Mexican and Anglo. Never was there better proof to me of the true color blindness of my dear sons then when they came home from school telling me of their friends. When they spoke of their friend Mike, I wasn't really sure which one they meant. They finally got thru' to me by saying the "beige" Mike, not the "brown" Mike. Surprised by their description, I continued the discussion but now asking about our family. What color was their Abuela? Beige. What about Dad? Beige. Well, if they were Beige. What is Grandma? Oh she's Peach! Then I asked "What am I?". You're Pink! I loved it. Nothing became "Black or White" til' middle school.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  27. Elder Frankie Fells

    Dear Bishop Jakes:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your gifts of insight and

    sharing. It is pass time that men let go of pride and share what's

    real and recognize that is is o k to be sensitive and cry.

    God bless you and your great ministry.

    Elder Frankie Fells

    July 23, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  28. Mike

    Latino is not a color...it is reference to all people of Latin America and Spain regardless of ethnicity or race. Therefore, a "Latino" can be of white, black, Indian, etc. ancestry. Please do not confuse the term "Latino" with race, as the popular American culture and media does. (cf. US Census for more info.)

    July 23, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  29. lary ledbetter

    GOD loves us all ,what a great example he set for us

    July 23, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  30. SP

    Very touching story. I can understand how his some felt. Growing up in a predominately white community 30 years ago was tough on me. I often wished I was another color just so I would be accepted. I hated living in a white community because of the name calling and mistreatment. Things are certainly much better now, but to think inequality doesn't exist would be mythical.

    To JC-Los Angeles – Not everyone lives in a community like LA. Some live in much smaller areas where people are less progressive in their thinking. Many still hold on to bigoted thoughts. I agree the black community needs to embrace opportunity, but at the same token, opportunity need to be equal and fair.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  31. Jeff

    Wonderful!. So sad to think of the vast number of children who experience this. Girl children experience it when they begin to discover that they are viewed as less than boys by some people. All other than white children experience it at some point. All gay people experience it as children. All poor children experience it. Hopefully someday no child will awaken early to the realization that they are perceived as "less than" because there is an arbitrary and narrow "norm" that they don't qualify for just because of who they were born as, or the inherited circumstances of their life.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  32. Loretta from California

    This problem is so common in the black community, and I don't know what more can be said, but we need to do better. We need to teach our children self-worth, that they are beautiful, and to believe in their ability to over-come this pain and or any obstacle in their path.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  33. Mauve

    I agree with the Bishop–pride in oneself is a good thing. However, trying to have pride in my Irish heritage seems to bother some African-Americans. I have never understood why some think it is o.k. to have "black pride" but it is not ok for me to have pride in where my family came from (Ireland). No, I am not a rebel flag wavying type–I just like to hang my Irish flag next to my American one. Why the double standard?

    July 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  34. Peter

    I appreciate the piece. I shutter a little at the "if all else fails" speaking of parental involvement, which I presume was a joke. Of course, that should be the prime focus.

    An ongoing problem across all racial groups in the U.S. is parents continued subjugation of their responsibilities to schools and governmental institutions under the cloak of 'feeding our children' or ‘paying the bills’. American children would benefit greatly simply having mom or dad around more living the example of their values, rather than working that precious time away for luxuries in the guise of necessity.

    It’s a difficult balance in this material world, but as a father of eight, I often envision when my kids have all left the nest. No possessions, retirement savings or peer praise will compensate for things I wish I would have done, or taught, to my children.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  35. Mary

    As a white person who has lived in California the last 35 years out of my 58 on earth, it is obvious that there are now more non-whites here than whites. However, at all my temp jobs whites still seem to be the majority of office workers, with hispanics and asians also represented in significant numbers. Blacks are few and far between outside of the government sector. Blacks are still under represented in white collar jobs and probably in blue collar jobs as well and that is why it is accurate for them to feel they are a minority in a majority world. My 18 year old son happens to have many black friends. They always seem to view us white folks through the prism of judging us as to if we are "racist" or not. I can remember as a 5 year old I asked Santa Claus for "blue eyes" since I preceived way back in the 1950s that blonde hair and blue eyes were better than the blonde hair and brown eyes I was born with. To go through life with the self-esteem burden most blacks suffer from is holding back our entire society. We must do better by these children and people.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  36. Duane


    Maybe that applies to California and maybe New York, but the rest of the country really is not that different (in racial makeup) than it was ten or twenty years ago.

    Go to West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania or any other number of states and Blacks and Hispanics are still by far in the minority and are treated as such.

    I am happy for you and your diverse Californians though....the rest of us are not so lucky.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  37. Amy

    Thank you for your insightful message about the importance of self-acceptance and truly valuing and appreciating your individuality and all that you are.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  38. Linda

    Pastor Jakes, I have followed your ministry for a long time. I am a white woman 59 years old, I must admit I was confused by your comment when Obama won the nomination. You said you had cold chills and how wonderful it was that a black men might become president. I was confused because I felt we shared the same beliefs (Christian beliefs) which Obama's position on many issues are to me , contrary to God's word. Such as his position on abortion. I am confused because many black Christians I know are for Obama and it appears that the only thing they are looking at is his color. They are apparently putting race at the top of their list rather than principles and convictions. Am I reading something wrong in this I really want to know.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  39. Cathy Risberg

    Amen! Thank you, Bishop Jakes, for all that you do. I have been truly inspired by your written words in your book, Maximize the Moment and by your message at Willow Creek's Leadership Summit in South Barrington, IL, a few years ago.

    Your blog message of teaching all our children to embrace their diversity and that of others around them is so important. God sees, hears, knows and values each of us around the world and accepts and celebrates our differences. If we are to live in peace, we all need to learn to do the same.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  40. CJ

    I have zero doubt of the completely unfair suffering of African Americans in this nation due to skin color and race. The slavery thing was completely uncalled for and horrible.

    I do have a problem with Rev. Jakes, however: Too often I've read/heard long-winded and melodramatic stories from various ministers. I'm always skeptical of the stories themselves, though I don't doubt such a young man existed (probably 10,000 times over) as Jakes describes.

    As for Jakes himself, I'm curious as to why, on the cover his book "Mama Made the Difference," HER photo is the size of a postage stamp compared to his cover-swallowing photo. >:-\

    Anyway, I don't need a minister to tell me of our social ills.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  41. Maurice G., Philadelphia

    Bishop Jakes I appreciate your story and how it gets to the core of several issues:
    For one, many seem to doubt the implications of being socialized in an environment where WHITE is RIGHT, and BLACK is WHACK. Your son felt the sting of this epidemic and painfully carried the burden until a venue was provided for him to share. There are many black man however, that aren't afforded an opportunity to enjoy a "safe place" where they can vent.
    In addition, your story unveils a truth about many of our African-American parents and how they have been forced to juggle the realities of raising children of color in the 20th & 21st centuries, dealing with many forms of anachronistic racism, only to be bombarded with subliminal messages of inferiority and incompetence.

    Peace and Blessings

    July 23, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  42. Mark Piper

    Amen brother.

    I wish we all could see in someways as a blind person. Only that from within matters.

    Mark – Minnesota

    July 23, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  43. Jeremy Widner - Kansas City

    Mr. Jakes,

    I am a white male who until recently never did experience racism. My wife and I have adopted two boys from China and have become a bi-racial family. I am begining to understand in small part what it is like to be judged and stared at because of the makeup of your family. I struggle daily with how to equip my boys with the skill they will need to navigate through the environment where they are judged by the color of their skin. I appreciate your sharing your experience on this. I found it encouraging. Keep up the good work


    July 23, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  44. Jerry Frazier

    Hi Bishop Jakes,
    No one could have said it better. I love your preaching, I watch you on TBN. Your article here could not have been more eloquently stated. I agree with you 100%.
    Keep up the good work. I hope to visit the "Potter's House" someday.
    Thank You,
    Jerry Frazier

    July 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  45. phil

    I am white and have only experienced the "bringing up" of my two sons. 17 and 14 at this time. The have all the things most young boys ever wanted. I just retired from 20 years in the military and being "military brats" was hard for them in it's own way. It is still a challenge. The paragraphs I have just read leave me in awe of a father that loves and shares love in an unbias and open way with his sons. All people of any color should be educated in the ways that they are belssed and special. White, black, brown, etc... All of us have wonderful things to be proud of and some to be shamed of. My sons will read this tonight and we will discuss our heritage. We have been in the US since the founding of St Louis. Pioneers so to speak. Pastor, as I read your words, I am touched in all I read. All need to look hard at who they are and be thankful to be blessed for who they are.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  46. Jon

    Hello, I'm currently deployed to the middle east and i had a chance to read TD Jakes on cnn.com. This was an awsome article from TD Jakes. It is so sad that you have little kids that have to feel this racist world. I'm here deployed with many african americans, and in fact respect the african american sitting beside me as i do my job for my country as they are doing the same. It is sad that you have little kids having to go through the same thing that people had to go through many many years ago. Even thought it was 24 years ago this araticle was being refered to. Hopefully one day this world will rid of racsit people.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  47. Kent Bott

    An excellent and thought-provoking contribution ... thank you!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  48. Valerie

    I realize that racism is definitely a valid concern and more work needs to be done. However, Bishop Jakes brings up another subject that I feel is just as important but NEVER gets addressed to the extent of other societal ills. That it the fact that overweight females (males as well but not to the extent) are ostracized, made fun of and discriminated against just as much as any minority if not more but it is not talked about. It is just as harmful as racism! I am 38 years old and still remember being teased at school & called names.....and I wasn't all that overweight!!!
    This needs to be addressed as well! Amen to Bishop Jakes for at least acknowledging it

    July 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  49. Mario Cairo

    Sir my hat off to you; I feel the pain everyday for my kids and family. You see Mom was born in the pacific, my sons were borned in the USA and I was borned in hispanic caribean; and not one day goes by were reality of difference hits us by caucasians, blacks and others who do not have accents or funny skin tone.

    Again thank you for your candor and courtesy of sharing .

    Mario Cairo

    July 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  50. Patricia

    I am embarrassed to say that I had not heard of you until this article. I am proud to say that I will not forget you.

    Communication is the only way for unification. Thank you for such a gentle, yet powerful read.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
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