I want to share an email that my dad wrote me recently to vent concerning some convictions weighing heavy on his heart in the light of the Charlottesville tragedy and the raging tide of white supremacist groups across the country. It’s a mixture of history, heart, and hope.
“There was a man named William Taylor. He was a disabled veteran, and a business owner. When he was 43, his wife Frances gave birth to a daughter, Mattie Ivie. She moved with her family to Oklahoma where she met her future husband, Walter James. When they married, they moved to the northern panhandle of Texas to pursue a career in ranching. When Mattie was 37, she gave birth to a daughter, Fannie Sue. This young lady grew up near Stratford, Texas, and then went to Baylor University where she met her husband to be, Jonathan Joe Jordan. They married and she had a son when she was 35. That son is me, James Jordan.
With my family heritage, I could easily justify showing prejudice toward someone who doesn’t have the same color skin as me . . .
“My great-grandfather William Taylor was the son of a slave owner and was injured in the Civil War fighting for the South. My dear grandmother Mattie had a Confederate battle flag hanging on her living room wall, and I grew up as part of the first generation in Texas that was fully integrated.
“The nine sentences in the first paragraph span 94 brief years from 1862 when William Taylor was hurt in battle until 1956 when I was born. This is how quickly our nation had transitioned from a country where a man could own another man as a piece of property to a place where we should all be truly free people. Now 150 plus years later, why are we so shocked that people hate people that don’t look like them?
“With my family heritage, I could easily justify showing prejudice toward someone who doesn’t have the same color skin as me, or doesn’t talk like me or doesn’t live on the same side of town as I do.
There is no excuse to think less of someone who looks different than you.
“I love my family, and I love knowing things about my heritage, but I deplore the fact that they embraced the institution of slavery, segregation and racial discrimination. I’m almost sure my mother never saw a colored person until she attended college. I know my mother’s family was made up of some of the nicest people you could meet, yet I also know they probably cringed when they walked into a store and had to wait for a black family to be waited on first. Did they plan this? Do you think they sat around at night and plotted how to treat black people or minorities badly?
“One of the places we have lived still has the rear entrances that black people had to use during segregation. I have walked through old courthouses where you can see the uncomfortably blank spot on the wall where the “coloreds only” water fountain was located. To answer the previous question I asked, if my family plotted how to discriminate, the answer is a flat no, and yet I’m sadly sure they did treat others badly just based on the cultural expectations they lived within.
“I do know one thing: there is absolutely no excuse for racism. My ancestors were in a system that was all they knew. I’m sure that when they read in the papers about how the military, sports, and higher education were integrating, they wondered what was coming, and I hope they prayed openly or secretly that racial equality would progress even faster.
“There are no excuses in 2017. There is no excuse to think less of someone who looks different than you. There is no excuse for police brutality. In the context of police brutality, black lives do really matter. I have black friends who feel nervously sick every time they have a police car pull up behind them whereas I have never worried about being mistreated by a police officer. This is so wrong and there is no excuse for this. Period. There is no excuse not to hire the most qualified person for a job and then pay them the same wage anyone else would get regardless of cultural upbringing, color of skin, gender or physical limitations.
I love God, and I try hard to love others . . .
“There is no excuse for white supremacy, religious or political bigotry, violence, hate or terrorism. There is no excuse for MS-13 or any other gang. No excuse for blowing up, shooting up, or stabbing people you disagree with or just don’t like.
“I am so grateful all four of our children look at people from the inside out. Susan and I had no strategy. We just tried to treat everyone the same and not to talk about people badly, and I guess it took in their lives.
“I love God, and I try hard to love others, but still, I don’t always succeed. I’m so convicted when a sinful thought sneaks in. This is why, as much as I hate to admit it, it will only be when God wipes away every tear in eternity that we finally won’t notice how different we are. We’ll only see how much alike we are as we worship our Lord.“