Hope Dealer

Hope Dealer:

I want to tell you about a Hope Dealer. A Difference Maker. His name is Ricky Aiken. My amazing godson.

I met Ricky when he was about 13 or 14 years old. He was a inner-city kid trying to find his way in life. I was a white guy from the suburbs trying to make a difference. A unlikely pair, but we just clicked. Fast forward a lot of years and Ricky has more than found his way and is making a major difference in his community. Ricky founded Inner City Innovators and is a leader of change in his community. I believe what Ricky is doing will go beyond West Palm Beach and Florida. Ricky is changing the culture of the inner-city. He is showing people that the inner-city is more than what they see on the news. Laura West Shoemaker and I are so proud of Ricky. We think of Ricky as our son. We are excited to see what he is going to do next. Ricky is truly a Difference Maker. A Hope Dealer. ~OC

I Am Wrecked…Again

Once again I am wrecked by what I see happening in Atlanta, Virginia and Minneapolis. I keep believing that one day, I will wake up and not hear about another person of color being victimized by the actions of a person filled with hate or a person quick to judge. But sadly, that seems like a dream. But hey, I am a dreamer.

So I will continue praying for my brothers and sisters of color. Praying that as you walk down the street, people will not clutch their purses or bags a little tighter. Praying as you visit a place of business, you will not be hassled. I pray if for some reason you are pulled over by the police, you will be treated with respect. I am saddened that I have to pray this prayer every day for my brothers and sisters of color. But I will not stop praying. I will not stop speaking out against injustice. I will continue to stand with you. ~OC

Make The Pledge

We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the issue of Racism in our nation. We have to finally say enough is enough. We have to Rise Up against Division. We have to Demand Change. We have to Rise Up against Hate. We have to share Love. I am encouraging everyone who cares about Love and Justice to Rise Up and take the Pledge to End Racism. Will you Stand Up and make the Pledge with me? ~OC

My Prayer: Take Off The Blinders

As we witnessed the civil unrest at the Capital in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, there was a lot of discussion about hate groups and racism in America. Some in the white community (Breaking News: I am white), screamed on social media that racism is no longer an issue in 2021. Really?

When I engage some white people in the topic of racism, they often will challenge me to prove that racism still exist today in America. So I present them with a challenge. My challenge to them is to simply listen.

I am a storyteller, so I will share stories that my friends of color have shared with me about being racially profiled. I will share legit studies that have been done on the subject of racism. I will share videos showing racism happening to a person of color. I will encourage them to read articles or books on the subject of racism. Most importantly, I will challenge them to reach out to a friend of color and asked them if they have ever experienced racism. I think to myself, one of these suggestions will get through to them. Right? Sadly, a good majority of the time I will hear the following excuses:

*The data is biased.

*I don’t have time to read any articles or books.

*The person in the video was overreacting.

*My friends of color (if they actually have some) don’t want to talk about racism.

*I am tired of hearing about racism. Can’t everyone just get over it?”

I have had these types of conversations with my white friends and complete strangers too many times to count. But then after years of being frustrated by people who do not believe racism is still sadly alive and well, a beautiful freeing thought came to me. I don’t have to proof racism still exist today. The burden of proof is not on me. The burden of proof is on those who refuse to believe racism is still a major issue in 2021. There is no reason for me to walk away from these conversations feeling frustrated. The debate is over. This truth has set me free.

To those who continue to believe racism no longer exist, prove it. Show me some actual evidence. Show me some factual data. Just as my evidence proofs racism still exist in 2021, your evidence better support your argument against that fact.

As I close, my prayer is that God will change the hearts and minds of those who still deny racism is a clear and present danger in America. I pray these deniers will take time to read a book or article on the subject of racism. I pray they will check out the many videos that sadly show racism is still wide awake in our nation. My prayer is that my white brothers and sisters who still believe racism is a thing of the past, will reach out to a person of color and have a real conversation about this stain on America. I pray the blinders will come off. ~OC

Adopt A School

As school districts debate on whether they should open up in the Fall or not, I would encourage everyone to adopt a school to pray for in your area. You could take one day a week, to drive by the school and pray for the students, teachers, administrators, staff and parents. This will be another tough and unique school year for everyone. They could all use our prayers. ~OC

Just a White Guy Fighting Racism

As you can tell from some of my previous post, I believe racism is one of the biggest issues facing our nation. Of course the issue of racism is not new to America. I believe it is one of the original sins of our nation. I could share a lot of data to support that statement, but I would rather share some practical steps white people can take to help improve race relations in America. Wait a second Todd. Why are you directing this towards white people? I am glad you asked. I believe for too long, we (white folks) have been afraid to have conversations about racism. We do not want to say the wrong thing and be accused of being a racist. I get it. I have been there. But we must have these tough conversations. I would like to share a few simple steps I think we (white folks) can take to help fight everyday racism. I have found them helpful in my journey to help end racism.

Listen to People of Color. To often when our brothers and sisters of color are discussing racism, we want to jump in and try to fix things. Or worse we discount what they are saying. We just cannot believe they would still encounter such blatant racism in 2019. They do! So the next time you have the opportunity to discuss racism with a person of color, just listen as they share the pain they face daily.

Educate Yourself. Take time to learn about All of America History. Not just the white history most of us learned in school. There are plenty of books, museums, websites and articles to help you become more informed.

Stand Up to Racism. Don’t walk away when that family member or coworker tells a racist joke. Confront them on their behavior. Call out the business owner who follows a person of color around the store. Stop and educate someone when they say racism is not that bad in America. It is! I know this might be difficult for some of you, but we cannot stay silent.

Ask Questions. Take time to asked people of color plenty of questions. It’s okay to admit you don’t know everything. I have no idea what its like to be a person of color in America or anywhere else. So the only way I can learn is by asking questions and listen. Remember to always listen.

What Happens If I Make A Mistake? If you happen to say or do the wrong thing, ask a friend of color how you can fix it. Apologize if needed.

Friends of Color. Okay none of this works, if you do not have any friends of color. No, the person of color you say hello to in passing at work or church does not count. Take the time to get out of your comfortable “white bubble” and engage with people of color. That might mean changing where you hang out or what church you attend. But I guarantee it will be worth it.

I know these six steps will not end racism by themselves, but I believe it’s a good start. Do not think you have to do them all in one day. That would be overwhelming. But I encourage you to start with one today. ~OC

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