I grew up in the Deep South. I have racist roots. I’ve been a racist. It hurts to even write those words. There was a time when I wouldn’t have written those words. Growing up, I thought interracial marriage was wrong. I didn’t think it was a good idea for black people and white people to go to church together; it just made things too complicated. Or at least that’s the logic I would use. I laughed at racially stereotypical jokes about black people. I was proud of my southern roots for all the wrong reasons. I drove with a confederate flag on my truck and it wasn’t because I was passionate about states’ rights during the Civil War. And yes, I used the N-word behind closed doors… When it’s your son, who you envision asking a white girl on a date and you worry about what her parents will say to him, it’s personally horrifying. When your sons are sometimes the only two black people at church you see the lingering effects of Sunday segregation personally. And the day I had to console my sobbing wife because someone on the bus called our son a “n_____ ,” the pain I personally felt was almost unbearable.
The primary lesson that I draw from this history for America at this moment is the reality, the preciousness, and the power of truth in the public square. When I say America at this moment, I am thinking of 1) the killing by police of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota, 2) the sniper killing of five police in Dallas, 3) the FBI non-indictment of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after her repeated, FBI-acknowledged falsehoods and “extremely careless” handling of classified material, and 4) the continued defense by national leaders of the legitimacy of killing children in their mother’s wombs.
What is happening in Iowa is an eye into the future of every state.