But What About the Children? | Sojourners

But What About the Children?

One afternoon I was eating cookies with my children, Eric and Yurie. I asked them if they had ever heard the term "oreo" to refer derisively to someone who is black but acts white. Eric took apart his cookie, put it together backwards, and said, "This is what I'm like--white on the outside and black on the inside."

Something inside me jumped. If it's possible to praise God and worry at the same time, I was doing it. I praised God for Eric's growth, his insight, and his inner assimilation, at last, after three long, hard years in an all-black, inner-city school and neighborhood. My own still-unhealed racism caused me to worry: "Will he adjust to white, middle-class society when the time comes...?"

Many parents worry about how the lifestyle choices they have made will affect their children. Two of the most frequently asked questions I hear from people who want to know more about the community and our life are: "What about being in the inner city--is it safe for your children?" and "What have you done about schools?"

When we first came to Sojourners three years ago, my husband, Jim, and I enrolled Eric and Yurie in our neighborhood public school. As part of a Christian community which is attempting to live with and for the poor, we did not even think of seeking the privilege of transferring them to a more integrated or middle-class school. We wanted to be part of our neighborhood and to bear the same burdens of the school system as our neighbors did.

We fervently hoped the children would develop friendships. We trusted that God would keep them safe physically and emotionally. Over our years here that has been a constant inner prayer, and my own faith has deepened as I have experienced God's love for them again and again and have seen their growing trust of their world, free from my own particular fears and prejudices.

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