If I know one thing for sure, it's that racial issues in the United States are still alive and well.
And although African Americans now have the right to vote, own property, attend desegregated public schools, etc. etc... I still find myself saying every so often - "Wow, and it's 2013."
Take this story, for example:
One of my friends, who happens to be African American too, took her two daughters to see "The Butler" last week. Her daughters were deeply moved and amazed at the narrative of history being played out before them. They had learned very little of this history in school, and they wondered why.
I too have questioned this lack of the "whole-story" in our country's history lessons.
I think the answer is found in the rest of this story.
So... one of my friend's daughter's plans to try out for a part in her private school's production of "The Great Gatsby." In order to prepare the students for tryouts, the drama teacher set the stage for the 1920s - the decade that F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby takes place.
The teacher went on and on about how wonderful this time period was for Americans. How most people enjoyed a time of wealth and prosperity. How this period marked a time of fun and revelry.
After noting that "The Butler" began in the 1920's, when sharecropping covered a dark blanket over much of the South, and therefore, most African American families, my friend's daughter responded something like this:
"Mommy, my teacher said the '20s were a time of fun and wealth. But it wasn't that way for African Americans."
And that, my Friend, is one reason why race relations are so difficult in every era of our country. Oftentimes, African Americans and Caucasians have two completely different realities. And what becomes frustrating is when one side is unwilling to see and validate the other side's reality.
Which is why a movie like "The Butler" is so vitally important.
We've all seen movies that helped us peer into the White House. We've seen Eisenhower portrayed. We've seen the Kennedy family portrayed. We've even seen Ronald Reagan portrayed.
Yet how amazing was it to see the White House through the lens of a servant - an African American one at that.
That alone is enough reason to see "The Butler."
What director Lee Daniels did was afford us the opportunity to see life from a different perspective -- the perspective of an African American man who grew up in abject poverty, but rose to a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. A man who served with dignity and pride, despite many who considered his occupation beneath the modern Black man. A man who, in service to his country, resembled our Savior.
"Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave -- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." *So, whatever you've got planned this weekend, fit in a viewing of "The Butler" if you haven't already seen it. Go see it with others and discuss it afterwards. Feel free to discuss it with me here or in my Facebook inbox.
Brothers and Sisters, we've got to begin to attempt to see life from the lenses of our brothers and sisters of different hues and cultural backgrounds.
We've got to talk less and listen more.
We've got to open our hearts to truly see.
It's the only way we're going to tackle this race thing in our country.
Laws cannot do it.
Changed hearts are the answer.
* These words are found in Matthew 20:26-28. And it's no coincidence that I just read them during my devotional time this morning.