Picture this. You’re walking among a diverse community without any commotion. No chaos; it’s just peace throughout the atmosphere. No cops are killing innocent African Americans or any race. Nobody is discriminating against one another. This is the dream that Martin Luther King had envisioned when he was alive. This is the dream that I still have today. It doesn’t take only one individual to put this dream into existence, but it takes a village.
Growing up, my uncle taught me to never trust a person with the opposite skin color, because of the long history African Americans and Whites had against one another. I didn’t listen. When I went to school, I began to realize what he was talking about, but I didn’t understand why I couldn’t trust White people, if they were my friends. I’ve been taught by White teachers, had a mixed friend whose mom is White, and our closest next-door neighbor was also White. They haven’t done anything to harm me. Yes, it is good to know your history, but that doesn’t mean you should go around hating one another. That’s not what God commanded us to do.
In the Bible, Jesus gifted us the greatest commandment, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34–35). Throughout life, I attempted to live out this rule. In high school, it was difficult to love those who treated me wrong, especially if they were the opposite color. I began to wonder if loving every person was worth it. I reflected on what my uncle told me in the beginning, but I believe it was God testing me to see if I was really keeping His commandment. Don’t get me wrong. I had friends who accepted me for who I was, but I didn’t really trust them as much as I did with my own race. I talked to my dad about it, and he told me, “Son, it doesn’t matter what color you are. What matters is if your heart is pure.” His statement made sense to me, because some of the White kids were more kind to me than my own race. I wanted to fit in with my own kind, but I guess I couldn’t live up to their standards. Now, I had a mixture of friends, but I guess I couldn’t fit into a specific category of people.
During my college years, I began to see what my father was talking about. I attended Greenville University, which is a diverse campus. I was also a member of the football team. Head Coach Robbie Schomaker was very gracious to me for letting me play on his team, along with the others. There were two moments that I’ll never forget during my freshman year. One was the homecoming game in October 2016 when a group of veterans threatened civilians who knelt during the national anthem to leave town, and the veterans stood in the middle of the game field to protest. In the middle of the anthem, I saw a diverse group of team members kneeling and praying together. From that moment, I knew that there was hope that one day we as a people would stand together to stop racial cruelty.
Another moment that made me have my eyes wide open was my first encounter with being harassed by the police. And, yes, the officer was White. He stopped me while I was on my way home, asked for my license and insurance, and then he began to question repeatedly if I had a weapon or any drugs in my vehicle. After I told him the tenth “no,” he told me to step out of the car and handcuffed me. I began to panic, for I was confused about what was going on. He searched the car without my permission, and the other cop tried to bring me to a state of peace. In my head, I had a feeling that he knew that what his partner was doing to me was wrong. I was thankful for the other cop, for I knew God was watching over me. At first, I thought I was going to be a part of the African Americans who were murdered due to police. African Americans are three times more likely than whites to be killed by police, and I thought I was going to join the people who were killed. It’s like you already see yourself on the news being talked about, and you hear the reporter saying that another young Black male has been beaten to death or murdered by a White police officer. “The officer won’t be on trial, for he was defending himself from the teen.”
After this incident, I began to question God’s commandment again. But I knew that I couldn’t carry hatred in my heart, so I prayed and asked God to hopefully bring peace among the officers and us as a people.
Years later, God answered my prayer. I went from questioning whether His commandment was relevant to putting it into action. I have adopted a really diverse group of friends who love me unconditionally, without judging my skin color. I told them about my problem during my freshman year, and they had the same dream. They all wished that there was peace among all races, and I believe that this friend group that I have is just the beginning of it. No matter what happened in the past, racial unity exists. God didn’t just place us on this earth to be separated, but to love one another. It’s not easy, but with this journey in life, you will learn to love.
Joshua Robinson is a 2020 graduate of Greenville University where he wrote for the Papyrus news website and played football. He is the author of “How Football and God Taught Me Patience” that LIGHT + LIFE published in 2018.1