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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. Eric

    It saddens me to see racism in these posts. It's not that it is criticism or iven a critical view that shows insight like JC – Los Angeles. The comments by the last 2 are abominable and drip with venom. Thus, proving what racism looks like.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  2. M. rogers

    Jim:

    You must be a whacko.. or not getting the purpose of this article..or
    you have no children and no idea what is being talked about here.
    I give you benefit of doubt and assume latter.. so read this. I have 3 year
    old beautiful girl.. who is not black but not white either and watches
    too much of Disney princess (less Dora).. consequently she one day
    asked me and her mommy... why isn;t she white and blond. After
    throwing out all Disney princess stuff.. and 6 months of teaching her
    that beauty comes in all color.. she is much better now.. You get it...
    if not search your (White) soul.. may god help you.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  3. Pablo

    Bishop Jakes, I applaude you for what you have done in/for society. However, it is important that African Americans begin to understand that many of the things that are holding them back are self inflicted. While it may be cultural/fashionable things like grills, saggy pants, huge baggy shirts, and improper slang terms and just plain old turn-offs to most employers. I know the term is over uses, but "keepin' it real" is only keeping yourself down. Why is dressing to look like a thug more important than doing what is necessary to make it. I grew up poor as a cockroach, but went to school on govt loans and was able to get an entry level position is sales. I now have paid off those loans and make 6 figures. I didn't do it by "staying real to my roots" which was a trailer park. I wanted out and did what was necessary.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  4. Brian B

    Amen!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  5. secular humanist

    Bishop Jakes:

    Thank you for your throughtful and heartfelt story. I am saddened that your children learned at such a young and tender age that some people hate blackness. Thank you also for so eloquently distinguishing between pride in ones heritage and prejudice against those of other heritages. Although I was raised as a secular humanist (in the finest sense of that now abused phrase), I have always been proud of what my jewish ancestors contributed to what we think of as western culture. That pride, however, has never stopped me from being awed at the contributions of individuals from other groups to western and eastern cultures, and by the the tenacity with which yet other peoples have fought to overcome the worst kinds of treatment in order to live decent lives or to share their own special gifts.

    Perhaps the fact that my parents small circle of close friends, the people with whom we shared vacations and holidays, included a Japanese American family and an African American family meant that differences in skin color meant no more to me than differences in eye color. Looking back, I realized that what we all shared was a middle class, suburban, liberal upbringing where politics and social engagement substituted for church (or synagogue) attendence. The irony is that while I have largely been "color blind" from my earliest days, it has taken me years to become aware of my economic prejudices. It seems to me that my parents sought to cultivate friendships that crossed racial boundaries, and by doing so, they sensitized me to the idea that people are more than their skin color, but in cultivating friendships only with their economic peers, they inadvertently limited contact with people outside the middle class.
    Perhaps each generation will address the sins of the previous generation, and we will always have some insensitivities about "others", but I am optimistic that in America today, we are finally starting to address the ancient evil of racial prejudice.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  6. Kareem Rashad From Hampton, Va

    Wow! First I would like to thank Bishop Jakes for his commentary! It is on point!! Now for all of you all that say its ridiculous and there are more races than black etc etc..while you may have a point if I was to look at it from your perspective open your eyes a lil furthur and see ours! Yes there are more races than black but all other races were welcomed here with open arms!! Irish, polish, italian, greek every thing else were greeted here with full voting rights and their basic civil rights! Now yes there are stereotypical labels that may run abound neither one of those other races were looked upon as less than human! Some of your comments even reflect that...we are NOT th eonly race that has a high unemployment rate..especially now BUT YET the retort was get a job!! Now Im not accusing those with opposing views as being racist...I just think they need to step out the box and listen! All black people cant be lying...

    July 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  7. homnoir

    why is it that many, not all, whites are uncomfortable discussing matters of historical race perspectives in America. Race has been and will continue to be a relevant issue in this country. No one should be offended by TRUTH.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  8. Jo

    I'm a 43 year old black woman and I remember being 7 years old and my fathers friend, who is white, came over and visited. As he left he commented on me being pretty and I gave him a look. He give me a kill on my forehead. I was stocked. I remember thinking,'did anyone see that'. My father always had white friends, but my mother always talked bad about white people. I was so messed up that whole day. I never forgot that experience. Years later, when I was in my 20's as an adult I asked my mother why she felt the way she did. She told me she saw her cousin get killed for talking to a white girl when she was 17. She never forgot it. I asked her "then why do you work for white people" She said she could work for them, but not trust them. I felt bad. I served 10 years in the military and was friends and roommates with every color in the rainbow. But in the military our race was green. I look back at some of my experiences and had to realize that the comments my mother made about white people effected me in ways I didn't know, till I had my own child. My son hasn't had any bad issues or questions and he is seven. He plays with all children. There are times when we are at McDonalds and we go play on the toys and some white parents pull there children and go inside. I take it in stride. My child dosen't see what's going on. He's happy. I'm married to a wonder man who has that same belief that I have. We are different, all of us, but we are all Americans and we have to make things better for future generations. I believe that I'm my personal self first, then I'm black. My self being is what makes me who I'm am. I'm proud to be me. That is something that I can affect. I can't say I'm proud to be black because I've never been anything else. When I get a job I get it based on my skill set and experience, not because someone takes pitty on me or feels they need to give me a break. I know some people are going to disagree with me. I'm not a victim because of my race. I would only be a victim if I listin to these self appointment black leaders who what to tell me what to call myself and how we are so in the basement. Blacks, as individuals, need to start thinking for themselves. Nothing in life is easy. Trust me. Get past the color of your skin. See your personal self and your on the right path. I don't have white friends. I have friends.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  9. L Werts

    Pravo Bishop Jakes

    JC – Los Angeles – Please watch black in American on CNN tonight and tomorrow.

    Clearly you do not have a single clue. Does it rain in your world of "everything is everything? Denial of reality does not help anyone. The last thing the black community needs is for someone outside to tell us again what we should and should not do or feel. Mind sets like yours are the reason we are still having this discussion.

    Try walking a few years in someone else shoes before you say what a community should or should not be doing. At the very least please watch the show.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  10. john

    As long as these articles continue to be printed, and people still cry about things, the social divide will remain, unconsciously strengthened by those who supposedly want it to disappear.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  11. Kellie - Dallas

    I have to respond to JC's comment, because it bother's me that he doesn't understand why “knowing how things can be when you are a minority in a majority world” isn't dated at all. However, I am not suprised because sometimes I just believe you have to be black to FULLY understand the black experience in America. Our experience is different than any other minority experience in America. We were enslaved as a people and denied rights. My living grandmother can tell me stories about not having civil rights or being able to vote in America. That was what 40+ years ago? The effects of that discrimination still lives on today in many different ways. I can remember hating the color of my skin growing up in a predominately white neighborhood as a young girl. If you are white, I doubt if you ever once hated the color of your skin growing up in a diverse LA, because all your "positive" images were white. Yes, we have some healing to do as a people, and TD Jakes is doing the right thing by healing from within his own family unit. But make no mistake we also have healing to do as a country. America created the wound, specifically to the black race. That part is undeniable. To not focus on this group at any point in our history is to be in denial. I'm not suprised we're doing it. I'm just suprised it's taken this long.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  12. Maggie

    JC – I think you missed the point completely.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  13. Julia Forsyth

    Wow! Thank you for writing such an interesting piece.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  14. michelle

    Mr. Jakes,
    While my family is mixed, your story reminded me of something that happen to my children when they were younger. They both have disabilities and I insisted that be part of a regular education classroom. It hurt my heart to see them struggle so much. It hurt my children because they were different and the children told them so, so did the teachers in some ways.
    Thank you for reminding me of hard being different can be and how we as parents need to also be there for them.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  15. Jim

    Relle,

    You state "Blacks were in-slaved" (sic) – keyword there is "were" and that is more than a century ago. I will agree that persecution and fear/hate continue to this day, but I don't know any blacks that I've ever encountered who were denied a public education and the opportunity to make something better with their lives.

    This victimization attitude is the first thing that Black culture needs to rid itself of – this belief that America owes them something. I'm white, middle-class, and college educated. Everything I've earned to this point has been by my own doing. I don't hate black people – I don't hate any race or religion. But I will tell you that the problems Blacks are facing are their own and they need to be the ones to solve them.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  16. Brendan

    I think it is also important to note, your skin color is only a small part of your race...one reason that "race" is such a difficult topic to discuss, in my opinion, is that it's connotation fluxuates so. Digging deeper and discussing elements other than the fact that African American's skin is black has little to do with the rest of their racial makeup, it is simply the most obvious and public one...discussing other elements of race and bringing them to the forefront is a great way to stimulate discussions which are more focused and, usually, more productive

    July 23, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  17. scir91 from youtube

    being black in america makes it seem america is the one doing the victimizing. newsflash! being black around the world has the same issues that being black in america does. if you leave the country and open your eyes, you will see that. america isn't perfect but it sure is better than most countries where certain ways of life can never be questioned or challenged.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  18. Mickie

    I don't condone bias against anyone for race, religion or sex. I am 64 yrs. old, caucasion (as far as I know) and have studied many different religions. We are all seeking validation and survival and none of us have a corner on superiority. My sister and I have never been able to trace my father's side of the family and, while frustrating at times, I would not be concerned no matter what his ancestry. I think everyone should just mix and we should have one race (wouldn't that tilt the world).

    July 23, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  19. Jessica

    Thank you for sharing your personal story. However, in the city that I grew up in, the blacks were the majority. With such a diverse culture in America, I don't think that blacks will continue using the "minority" title for much longer. We are such a melting pot that it is becoming a culture where there is no "minority" anymore in the sense that it was used in the past.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:10 pm |
  20. joy-NC

    I must say me and my husband had the same conversation with our sons. We have 4 boys and one girl. Two of them are twins. They are faternal twins which means they can come out looking very different which they did. The oldest twin came out my complexion which is dark while my other twin came out with his father complexion which is light. When he started kindergarten he came home and asked me why his skin isn't like his twin brother and I must tell you I cryed because it hurt my feelings.
    We discussed with him that their are different shades of black and that it was okay for him to be a little darker because we love him the same way.
    Come to find out his teacher was the one who talked about his skin color in class. He said she said your brother is lighter and you are darker than him so that is how I will remember you.
    I was pissed!
    So to hear your story is something I truly understand and believe that we as parents of color should talk more to our children so that they can understand the beauty in being themselves no matter what color they are.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:10 pm |
  21. Steven

    Relle, I think you meant enslaved not "in-slaved". Oh and through history there have been many white people that were enslaved as well. They got over it and moved on.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  22. Otis Woods, Madison, Wisconsin

    Amen. Thank you Bishop Jakes for an insightful writeup. I, too, struggle to raise my children in a moderate-to-middle class community that is predominantly white, with some of the same characteristics you've discussed. They are now facing issues I haven't prepared them to face and I am at fault for not preparing them sufficiently until this point in their young lives. The major difference is that my children are, for the most part, older than the your children were at that time in their lives when these unfortunate revelations were made.

    My wife and I are of different colors; she's white and I'm black. My children don't interact with or have oinly befriended one other individual in their same position, not black-white, but white-asian. I believe there is more acceptance of the white-asian child in our society that the black-white. It's unfortunate, but something we have to live with.

    They are beginning to question their race. With the negative images of black america posted on television and in the newspapers, and because they are very good learners, I believe the images are having a negative impact. Just the other day my youngest child asked me why black people are so bad, having just watched the latest news. These are images bombarding them everyday. Forfunately, afterwards, I was able to discuss with her what she had seen and to try to ease her feeling that not all people who have darker skin are bad people. She's not even seeing the good things that happen that involve people of color, at least not in our news media. She's being taught, by images, to believe what many children are believing and that is to fear a dark-skinned person first.

    We, as a race, must overcome this type of "prejudism" yet we are really to blame for it. We have too many of our young people who have resorted to criminal activity as a means of improving their lots in life and, true to form, the media prints, publishes, highlights, etc. all these misdeeds. It finally ends of being a characterization of an entire race.

    Children do believe what they see unless or until we as parents "persuade" them that such is not the case for everyone. However we continue to fight a losing battle.

    Thanks again.........and, again, AMEN!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  23. Carolynn Hook

    I grew up in an all white community with an active KKK. I had been told deragatory stories about blacks all my childhood and every chance I got, which weren't many, I checked them. I found the stories certainly not true, I found smart, clean, fearless, hard working, family loving etc. people and found no foundation for any hatred or lesser cast. In fact, I usually learned to check myself and to try to do better.

    The first time my daughter saw a black person, she was five years old and she gasped and said, Momma, a chocolate woman, she is beautiful! And, I said, yes she is.

    I don't know if time will eliminate stupidity. I can only hope, and make sure the next generation doesn't miss out on what they too can appreciate from these people of pride and ability and the highest of standards who have been to the mountain. I moved.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  24. Jon

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

    I wonder if Bishop Jakes could clarify who his son meant by 'they'. I'm sure the Bishop probably was inferring 'white people' and I'm sure that's what most readers will take away from this. But his son could just as easily have meant other African-Americans. It is no secret that among African-Americans, the darker-skinned people are looked down upon by the lighter-skinned. Of course this isn't 'racism' but it does qualify as bigotry. Even African-Americans are guilty of being prejudiced against those with darker skin than they.
    Shame on the Bishop for his inferrence (which only drives the racial-divide wedge deeper). Perhaps he has another book he'd like to sell.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  25. Jennifer

    Thank you for the wonderful, well articulated story! I'm not a Christian or African American but I can relate to the ideas expressed both as a parent and as a person. The analogy at the end about young girls suffering because they don't look like the "ideal" skinny girl helped me understand how sad I would be if my daughter was upset about something she could not and should not change about herself. Content of character is everything and we can all continue to dream that we will someday be judged by only that!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  26. Ron

    Now wonder CNN is referred to as the Colored News Network.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  27. DM IN NEW ORLEANS

    I appreciate this story because so many people don't think that this kind of thing goes on. I am the same age as the Bishop's sons are now but remember growing up as they did and feeling sometimes different since I was hispanic. Being raised to only speak english in the home by an american uncle, since my mom brought my brother and I at the age of 5 and 3 to this country that was his way of teaching us to live the american way and learn the american way. Its a shame that I really didn't learn my heritage and really didn't have a since of being proud of who I was and what I had to offer. Now in the work enviroment i realize what an asset it is to be bi-lingual unfortunetly I do struggle with my words when trying to help someone. I am raising my 2 kids now with my African American husband and I am proud to say that even though they are of light skin color, since they have a variety of races in my husbands family creol, mexican, and italian they are African American and are very proud of it. My son loves the summer time he thinks he is one day going to be as dark as his father which is the opposite of what the Bishops son wanted. We should all teach our kids that it is an asset to be different and be able to teach everyone what you have to offer our country no matter what anyone thinks or how they feel.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  28. Curchel

    Wow! great article! I dont understand some of these comments though. Especially the one that says "wake up black people and get a job". TD Jakes has a JOB and probaly makes a lot more than you! Why does the commenter assume black people dont work? Is that racist or what?

    July 23, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  29. Conrad Clark

    Bishop Jakes,

    With leaders like you and your God given words of wisdom, maybe someday we will really be "color blind" in the United States and skin color will no longer matter.

    I always enjoy reading your comments and hearing you speak.

    Thanks and God bless you!! (From a 65-year-old white man raised in rural Mississippi)

    July 23, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  30. Cry Me a River

    LIfe is short and then you die. Get over it. I am so tired of hearing this crap. The mass media shoves race down people's throats so they won't focus on the truth, which is that W and his cronies don't care what color you are. The only thing they care about is MONEY. It has been this way since the dawn of time and will continue until people of ALL RACES realize this.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  31. Patty

    An important perspective–beautifully written. We would like to walk a mile in the shoes of others, but many times it still does not grant us the total experience. This was lovingly written and I am thankful for men like TD Jakes.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  32. Karen

    Bishop, The good Lord made each of us in His image and likeness for a reason. It is man, starting with Adam that polluted God's perfection. We feel the aftershocks and deal with it on a daily basis. Our kids need to find their worth in the Lord to eventually discover it in themselves. The self-help baloney will only go so far, because again it is man-centered. I pray that your boys have found their worth first in the Lord who sustains each of us moment by moment, if our trust is in Him.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  33. Robert

    I enjoyed this article. Very insightful. I also like JC-Los Angeles comment. I think there is an opportunity to apply this wisdom to a much greater community. My family is interracial. My children have a mixed heritage. They have and will face many challenges growing up. The bully at school. Their appearance differences. The reaction of some when their mother shows up and they can't believe she is the "natural" mother.

    I have never been a proponent of African-American lable. Labling is/creates a challenge of itself. How else do you acknowledge your heritage? My kids are fully aware of their heritage. They dont classify themselves as "Asian-American", "Japanese-American", "Chinese-American", "Brazilian-American", Italian-American, French-American, Austrian-American, Thailand-American, ect... So many heritages and cultures are celebrated in this country without people having to get hung up on a title. Titles can sometime bring division and seperation. We should be aware of our differences and those should be celebrated and acknowledged. Just not sure if they should define us to that extent.
    Our society is adapting. Many marriages are interracial. Many cultures are melting together. We have marriages with different religious views, marriages with different cultural views, marriages with different political views. And somehow those marriages survive.
    Just something else to think about.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  34. KS - Wisconsin

    Your message applies to ALL parents, ALL Americans, ALL human beings. Speaking from your own experience as a person of color, you have a close up look at what being Black in America can mean, yet your story transcends race, gender and age. We all have a vested interest in embracing and contributing to the diversity that IS the American Culture and showing our children the value they add, the gifts that they are!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  35. Keith Foreman

    Bishop, your words are continuing encouragement to us in a world that sees and hears of us, but who really doesn't know us. I too had a similar conversation with both sets of my children, boys and girls, when they were less the 10 years old, about the pain they were going through and that I saw in their eyes, as I was trying to give them the dream that we were told was ours to have.

    Yes, the white schools, white neighborhoods, and white world that we/I put them in had caused them to question their identity, their "blackness"; it pained me in knowing that it was better for them that they get that view then as opposed to their view later, too late.

    I come from a "dysfunctionally unstable" Black family, an O.G. – L.A. Crip background, and yet the culture shock of a white college, my white military service, the true suburbia life that we live now, along with the management level responsibilities within a Fortune 500 company to keep that, and their dream going, still takes me back to those talks with my children about who they are, who we are, and where we can go if you try..........

    July 23, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  36. Donald, Toronto

    Thank you Bishop Jakes for sharing your story. When came to Canada in 1985 from Jamaica, I started high school in grade 13. Only two black students including myself were in the classs of about 30 students that were an ethnic mix of Chinese, South Asians, Italian, Jews, Caucasians, Hispanics etc. Unfortunately for me my English teacher who was of Scottish caucasian background some how did not like black people, which he made apparent by his behaviour. I remembered quite clearly that the Cosbys was the best rated sitcom at that time. My teacher then asked the class which sitcom was the best, unanimously the whole class said the Cosby. His response was, "that dumb show, which family that has a father has a doctor and a mother has a lawyer would behave so stupid, no! Jewish sitcoms are the best". The class was completely silent. The teacher then gave us assignments to do analysis of various authors work. On many occasions during the course of us analysing the work in class, he would make statements like, "Black authors are not as talented as white authors". I ignored the comments for a while until one day when I deemed it to be overbearing, I stood up in the class and said, "Mr. Brown are we here to analyse the authors' work base the writing style or is it based on their skin colour or ethnicity?" He stood shock and said nothing, I then turned to the rest of student and remarked, "do you guys realize what he is trying to do?. It is only two of us in here that are black students and he is always making negative comments about black people. It is obvious that he is trying to let us get discourage and drop out so we wont make it to university". then to him I said, "if you keep it up you will not teach much longer because I will take it all the way to Human Rights". He never did it again. We both graduated and went on to university. I share it with my oldest child who is now going to university and the others who are preparing to go there also. It is important to give them self worth.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  37. f.d.todd

    Thanks you Bishop Jakes, my daughter went to a school where you could count the black students on one hand. My sister told me my daughter was going to grow up thinking she was white. After High School she ask could she go to a Black College she had to do it for herself.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  38. Will

    Please go back to Africa.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  39. Alicia, MI

    It will be mandatory for my 6 year old son to watch Black in America with me tonight and tomorrow. Thank you so much Bishop Jakes for sharing your story which has enlightened me about discussion I need to have in my own family.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  40. Bonnie

    I enjoy your view on black awareness, and the gift of being African Americian, however the fight is deeper than any other minortiy can imagine.

    The hope for so many African Americans is lost in a dream of non-fictional.

    We only exist for tomorrow is the new motto in so many communities.

    We must also teach our children what is self-pride and self-preparness for a world that only see Black and White, and understand that in GOD eyes we are all the same.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  41. Lady Blessed

    Wonderfully addressed Bishop!!!

    As for Mr. Jim...the reason why Bishop Jakes did not apply this to Pastor Jeremiah Wright and his racism is because he did not need to. Pastor Wright is a grown man and knows better. It is not Bishop Jakes job to reprimand grown men, but put the knowledge out there and pray that one heeds and grows from it. Famous quote: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink". I am glad Bishop Jakes stayed silent, because the way media twist words and situations around these days, silence is your best defense!

    Much Love to ALL people!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  42. Will

    JC, just had a conversation with a successful hispanic businessman the other day, and his daughter was going through the same episode that Bishop Jakes just described. She was being taunted in the classroom for being a Mexican. Not just by Americans but by another nationality. Sometimes it's just better to listen to the experiences of others and add it to your knowledge.......

    July 23, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  43. sheila

    this is so honest
    I am encouraged to read God centered wisdon about racial issues/ AND building positive American relationships. It affects us all and we all hold a part in working with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  44. Dane

    Mr. Jakes,

    Thanks for a healing voice of wisdom. I am a white man and when I read your words I do not feel judged or attacked. I do not sense bitterness and resentment. But I do feel sad and ashamed for the way I and others have knowingly or unknowingly played a part in the pain your boys and your ethnic group have suffered in this country. Please forgive us. And thanks for not giving up on America and those of us in the majority groups.

    You are an asset not only to the church, but to our nation.

    May God give us more leaders like you.

    If you ever decide to step down from your high calling, you might consider a run at the Presidency!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  45. Mike

    One of the best I have read on race in America, and how Americans are led by culture and the media.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  46. Michelle

    I'm a black woman and while living in a small somewhat segregated midwestern city I can remember at the age of 4 years old walking with my mother downtown and confiding in her something that had be on my mind. I told her that I thought white people were better than black people, shocked at my statement, she ask me why I thought that and I told her that I thought they were prettier than black people. She then told me that black people come in all shapes and colors and it's a good. I wasn't convinced, but quickly learned never to bring up again. I'm now in an interracial marriage and I have 4 children. I find it to be amazing and troubling at how remnants of slavery and myths of racial inferiority can impact a person from a very early age and effecting their lives as an adult.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  47. stephenie

    I have always admired T.D. Jakes, he is indeed a great man of God! I though sometimes feel that blacks are always making up excuses for the lack of fatherhood in the home and/or gangs and it seems always pointing fingers at the other side blaming them for the mishaps.
    I was abused for many years and went through some major inward hell where i thought I might not make it another day but I did make it, and I never look back at the abuser and blame him for my confusions and pain. I decided to be a victor and quit letting the past keep me down.
    I am not at all trying to take away from the subject because I know racism is real but I have seen drastic changes even in the last few years and if blacks keep putting in the other cultures faces, its going to cause them to get tired of always hearing that they are the reason why blacks are the way they are.

    God bless T.D. Jakes, he has helped me in many ways.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  48. Chris

    Where does a 7 year old learn that "they will hate you more" if you're black?

    July 23, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  49. LMII

    Zoey,

    All mankind originated out of Africa!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  50. Jon

    Thank you, sir, for sharing...
    I agree with much of what you say. However, your comments "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..." troubles me. I can see how this sentiment might leave the door open for groups like GLSTN to want to introduce their gay agenda into the public school curriculum under the guise of "sensitivity training" or "promoting tolerance." I am not clear what role public education should be expected to play in this particular discussion, but I do think caution is needed when we use phrases like "sensitivity training."

    The responsibility and accountability will always fall squarely on the parents, and it is indicative of our current society that so many parents fail to act upon this "calling" and instead choose to neglect it. To what extent should we ask schools/teachers to compensate for parents failing to do their job?

    July 23, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
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