The latest happenings at West Point and my comments as the situation developed caused some to ask why do I decide time and time again to write on issues of race? Why can’t I let such potentially incendiary matters rest? For this posting, please allow me to expose some experiences I shared in response to an article a friend posted regarding race, housing and schools. These experiences are examples of why I am compelled to share with greater regularity as the issue of race continues to hold our national attention.
I've come to terms with the fact that dealing with race as a black man is ongoing work, with most struggles occurring out of the sight of others. How does one report the ins and outs of the battle? Does one mention that one's Realtor asks that all family pictures be hidden or removed during a showing or that only one's non-African American spouse deal with a buyer until closing so that chances for a sale are maximized? This was our experience in Cleveland where I was called the N-word every day I went running in my neighborhood. Every day. Do I share that Luz’s fear for my well-being due to those experiences, some quite harrowing is why I still don't run to this day?
In addition, Luz and I are always conscious of the fact that our merely moving into a neighborhood may lower the property values and change the pattern of those to whom real estate in the area is shown. I should mention that Luz is from a successful business family in the Philippines and is the equivalent of a national merit scholar and I myself have achieved a little bit of learnin’ and refinin’. Nevertheless, we have experienced fearful reactions and suburban flight in the Ohio and Michigan suburbs in which we have lived. In Ohio, we were the 3rd family of color to move into our community with the first two experiencing cross burnings on their lawns. Fortunately for us, the sale on matches must have ended by the time we arrived, though we experienced verbal taunting and door hangers from hate groups that shared the message that our neighbors shouldn’t have to live by people like us. In Michigan, the proof of residency drills were so degrading that even Luz and I were pushed to the point of annoyance as we were repeatedly required to endure them when registering our children for school after almost a decade of living in our district not to mention the condescending attitudes of those asking for our credentials.
Time would fail for me to list the affronts, indignities and insults we have received. Nevertheless, we are volunteers. We have intentionally chosen the ministries we have led and we have stepped up to the challenges we have faced believing that if one willfully chooses to serve as a bridge, one is volunteering oneself to be walked on. Nevertheless, after years of limited exposure, I am convicted that more exposure is needed so that greater understanding might be gained. Our calling as a bridge remains, however, in light of the challenges I see emerging in the land, the time to be more vocal about traffic patterns has arrived. I am not bitter. I am not angry. I am deeply affected, highly motivated and determined not to quit. As God gives me life and strength, I will carry on! Driving on in love and faith in the midst of a bumpy journey I remain, your friend and Brother,
|The Jackson Family in Front of our suburban Detroit Home|