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Living in the deep south of the United States, one gets used to the discussions about race. Admittedly, many of my brethren, both rural and non-rural, are a little slow in getting their minds around the fact that the amount of melanin in your skin has about as much to do with your worth as a human being as the amount of money in your bank account does. But many of us in the South have gotten it straight and are a little tired of being lumped into the former group, especially by well-meaning but misinformed folks from other places in the U.S. and around the world.

My favorite example of this happened this summer when one of my students from church spent her summer in another city as a missionary. She and a group of other students spent their time helping to lead that most famous of all Southern Baptist summer activities, vacation bible school. This involves groups of adults teaching children bible stories as well as doing crafts, playing games, and other assorted activities. Many of the smaller churches are unable to do this without help, so the students volunteered their time to lend a hand.

One of the girls that came to help was from Michigan and it was the first time that she had ever been in the South. She had very definite ideas about race and the inequality that had occurred in the past and was going to make sure that she got the locals straightened out while she was south of the Mason-Dixon line.

After their first week's mission work was complete, the group of students were riding back to where they were staying when one of the young men mentioned that he was looking forward to getting his pictures of the children developed. But he made the mistake of saying black children.

"Why do they have to be "black" children? Why can't they just be children? Why you gotta bring color into it?" came the reply from the seat behind the young man. The young lady treated the members of the van to a ten minute lecture on the evils of racism.

Silence reigned in the van for the next few minutes as all of the students absorbed what had been said. Then the driver of the van, in an attempt to break the awkward silence, mentioned that they were never going to get home if they kept catching all of these red lights.

My former student's reply was "Why they gotta be "red" lights? Why can't they just be lights? Why you gotta bring color into it?"

They rode the rest of the way home in silence.

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