I've been dealing with a personal issue about race. I've been pondering and asking the opinions of others about when an act or comment crosses the line of being racially motivated.
Over the past few weeks, I have found myself in situations or among conversations about race. Each left me very uncomfortable. In my heart, I don't feel that any of the parties involved are racist, but some questions were raised in my mind. Not only questions about them, but about myself and whether my feelings are valid.
I grew up in a predominantly black community and attended a historically black university. I was not raised to hate anyone because of their color, but it was embedded that generally blacks are disliked and treated unfairly. I have never experienced racism first-hand, but have heard accounts from family and friends.
So when I found myself among these conversations and uncomfortable feelings, I wondered if they were racist or if I was overly sensitive.
I have always felt that our skin color was a tool that the adversary used to pit us against each other. Although I knew that, I began to question everything and everyone around me. "Do they really like me, or is it just a front?" "If they do like me, does that mean I have become an 'Uncle Tom?' "
My feelings went from curiosity to hurt to anger and animosity. I know that I cannot be a true disciple of Christ and have those feelings within my heart.
I felt so bombarded by the topic that I had no choice but to face it. I did what I always do under such circumstances: I prayed about it. It has helped to reaffirm what I already felt, that there was no malicious intent. It also helped me see that for the most part, I was overreacting.
However, for two specific incidents, my feelings were valid. The parties involved had no malicious intent, but their comments were insensitive and inappropriate.
We are all Heavenly Father's children. The words we use should lift each other up and not tear each of us down. We should be careful that what we say does not offend others — but we should also not easily take offense.
I could have allowed my feelings to brew to the point where they affected other areas of my life, such as my membership in the church. But I sought the Lord's help in seeing their hearts and mine more clearly. The adversary uses tools like race to divide us, but through Jesus Christ, we can all be one.
Tequitia Andrews is a home-schooling mother of four children. She and her husband, Londo, live in Petersburg, Va., where they are members of the Richmond Virginia Chesterfield Stake.
More columns online
To read more from Tequitia Andrews and other regular columnists and bloggers, visit MormonTimes.com.