This week Planting Roots staff members discuss their most heartbreaking racism stories as part of our series on Racism in the Military Community.
Question 4: Share a story that breaks your heart.
Voice #1 – Claudia Duff
Goodness there are so many. One of my husband’s first prominent performances as a Navy bandsman was for dignitaries and politicians at the Vice President’s home. During the “grip and grin” time, my husband was standing with a plate of food in one hand when a senator/representative dumped his trash on my husband’s plate of food,and asked him to get his coat. My husband was in full dress uniform like everyone else who had just performed. But this man only saw a black man in a uniform and assumed he was there to serve him as a waiter. I still tear up when I remember the event and my husband’s humiliation and defeat when he told me later that night what had happened.
Voice #2 – April Dingle
April recorded a 10 minute video April’s Prejudice Experience.mov
Voice #3 – Chantel Jones
I’ve been fasting and praying for the African American community. Recently, I’ve had messages and texts asking how I can be friends with white people at a time like this. I’ve been questioned as to why I’ve befriended so many white people on my personal Facebook page. I’ve had family and “friends” stop talking to me, from people I’ve met in church along our military journey. It’s heartbreaking but it’s reality. If you see my profile, I’m posting scripture/Jesus only.
Voice #4 – Lisa Redford
My heart breaks when people say, “Your black children are so blessed to be in your family.” What I hear them saying is that they believe we saved them from some awful situation. In reality, we are the blessed ones to have been chosen by their birth moms, who made the courageous decision of adoption.
Adoption is tragic and beautiful all at the same time. Will our black children have a better advantage because they have white parents? Yep, that is what white privilege is. Will they have as much of an advantage as our white children? Nope, that is what white privilege is.
My heart breaks that our family, built through adoption, will have to prepare for additional situations when they are out with playing friends on post because some of our children were gifted with more melanin. Voice #5 – Kelli Baker – As a wife of an African-American man, I am afraid every time my husband leaves the house. The fact that he feels safer by taking steps like placing his Army PC (hat) in his passenger seat when he drives makes me sad. As a mother to African-American children, I am afraid for them to have the color of their skin weaponized against them. Raising them to be a respectful, yet proud, black man and woman seems almost impossible. As their white mom, I will never know what it is like to walk in their shoes. In order to effectively raise them to be proud of their heritage, my husband, and his family who live elsewhere, are leading well. We are an active duty military family, so I have to rely on the women of color in my local community. I have also relied on white women with multi-racial children who are ahead of me. Building relationships with women who can share their experiences helps to bridge those gaps. It takes an open mind and an open heart. It takes love.
Voice #6 – Denise Jolly
The clear divide in the Christian community breaks my heart right now. Ideologies, so deeply rooted in slavery, are clear race dividers And that breaks my heart. So I just keep reading the book of Acts and praying for godly perseverance within my community.
Voice #7 – Nicole Williams
When people are trying to achieve success, others sometimes use the phrase, “their name rings bells, or their name holds weight.” Their success needs no explanation, once
you hear their name. But for me, my name could never hold as much weight as my skin color. No matter how successful I am, my skin color will still hold more weight than my name.
The Way Ahead
Planting Roots would like to thank each staff member for sharing about, praying for, and engaging in messy, difficult conversations about race and more. In the coming weeks you will have the opportunity to see these women’s answers to the following tough questions about racism in the military community.
The U.S. military is viewed as being rather integrated racially today. What has been your experience pertaining to racial integration in the U.S. military?
Many of us have applied the idea of “not seeing color” while living this military life. What recommendations do you have in response?
How do we encourage diversity within our community of Christian military women?
Share a story that gives you hope and/or points to Jesus.