I'll never forget the day I watched a racist bank customer refuse to let a woman of color help him. I was standing at the teller counter when an older, white gentleman walked in. He had a file folder tucked under his arm and indicated he needed an account specialist - someone who worked at the desks across from the lobby.
It was obvious that two specialists, both women, were working that day. One of them was assisting other customers, she was white. The other specialist was available to help him - she was Black.
When she saw him sit down in the waiting area, she immediately got up and walked across the lobby, her modest high heels made a clicking sound.
"Sir, can I help you?"
He sat still, head down, and didn't even look up as he replied. Apparently, he'd noticed her when he walked in. Or, he saw the color of her feet peeking out the top of her shoes.
Awkward silence grew into a dramatic pause. Time stood still in the bank until the woman turned around and walked back to her desk.
"Does he know the other person who is working? Does he need to sit down for a few minutes?"
I had no clue why he wouldn't receive her help, or offer any explanation. The ackward silence in the bank grew. Then, I realized what I'd just witnessed.
In about two seconds, once it dawned on me, I went from naive and confused to disgusted and horrified. I couldn't believe what I'd just witnessed. I wanted to march over and slap the gentleman, or at least ask the bank to refuse him service. I was ready to protest, sit in and picket the place - maybe even call the media.
As I stood frozen in the lobby, I was really turned off by her co-workers who'd also watched this encounter happen. They did nothing other than stare, and a few minutes later they'd all returned to their computer screens and continued working. I was waiting for the bank manager to come and escort the gentleman away. For this Black woman's co-workers to rise up to her defense. But the bank went silent and business carried on as usual. A few minutes later when the white teller was available to help him, he stood up and walked to her desk.
It was unnerving. I was furious.
As I wrapped up my transaction with the teller, I wanted to do something. I had to do something to show racism is not OK. In an act that was 100% the Holy Spirit inside of me (because my flesh was ready drop kick an old man), I simply walked over to the Black woman and apologized.
"I'm so sorry, that's not right," I said with a shaking head and trembling hands. I wanted to say so much more, but those are the only words that would come out.
She looked at me with sad, yet grace-filled eyes. I couldn't tell if she was disgusted too, or if she was used to being treated like this. She gave a sly nod and seemed to appreciate the gesture. She handled the situation much better than me.
Racism is not OK
I don't care what country you were born in, what area of the country you're from, nor what generation you grew up in: What happened at the bank that day was not OK. We like to think our society has made progress because laws are in place against discrimination and things aren't "how they used to be." But let me tell you, the law may have changed but human hearts have not. Racism, white supremicy and beliefs about racial superiority are still very much at play. If you've not experienced it, ask a person of color. They deal with it every day.
If you're a person who professes to love God, and especially someone who follows Jesus, it's critial you draw a line in the sand when it comes to racism. Christians must be the loudest people who speak out against this type of behavior. If we don't say something, who will?
We need to be the leaders who are refusing service when something like what I watched in the bank occurs. We need to be the fastest to repent, to listen to what brothers and sisters of color face, and to make reconciliation and relational repair. It's a biblical command to love others as ourselves, reglardless of their color and creed.
What's my dream? That I never watch another situation like what happened at the bank that day... and that one day it won't be normal, but to everyone else who was watching, it will be just as foreign and angering.
Prayer: God, help me wisely handle my disgust when I see injustices. Open my eyes to racist acts around me. Give me courage to speak out. Give me grace to respond in a Godly yet powerful way. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
This devotional first appeared in the Monday Morning Survival Guide. Subscribe to get next Monday's devotional emailed to you.
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