Not long ago I was watching the movie “The Help” about a white woman in the 1960s, who took it upon herself to write a book full of horrendous stories told to her by black women. I am old enough to remember Martin Luther King’s speech, the marches, Rosa Parks on the bus, segregation, and the riots. I was still a kid, but I remember. I remember reading the book Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin and how it terrified me to know that people were treated so horribly just because of skin color.
You see, I grew up in small towns where everyone was white; however, I do remember an interracial couple that attended our church. His skin was almost as dark as the black suit he wore on Sunday mornings. His large hands fascinated me, and when he turned them over his palms were almost as light as my skin after a few weeks in the sun. Her skin was just the opposite, as white as flesh could be. I had no idea the problems they faced—I was too young.
Later, I became aware of the prejudices they must have encountered. And wouldn’t you know it? The bible was used to justify the case against interracial marriages, and God was the biggest excuse for their bigotries they held so dearly and vehemently condemned those who married outside their racial boundaries. Sound familiar?
Griffin’s book opened my eyes to understanding just a small part of what it must be like to be the target of prejudice. Although the movie “The Help” comes from a fiction novel, it had a similar story line. A white woman has to tell the stories of what it was like to be a black woman in the south. It was acceptable or at least tolerated to be openly prejudiced during an ugly period in our country’s history.
I watched the attitudes of some of the characters in the movie and it really hit home, that it really isn’t about the people they scorn, it’s about what’s in their own hearts. If they couldn’t pick on black people, it would be someone else. Like today, being openly prejudice against blacks isn’t acceptable anymore. Today, the open and allowable bigotry is towards homosexuals, and as with interracial couples being looked down upon in the past, the bible is used as a weapon against them.
How can any Christian justify their prejudices with the bible, and be so disconnected from God’s love? Jesus came to this earth and told us, we must love one another, we must help one another, we must heal one another, and he specifically told us not to judge one another. Isn’t bigotry towards any group, the ultimate judgment call?