When I was 12 years old, I ran in an invitational for Southern California, won 200 meters, and qualified for a national invitational in Pennsylvania. I was ecstatic. The sponsors bought my dad and me a ticket so I could compete.
Four days before the track meet, however, the sponsor showed up at my door to let me know that another boy would be going in my place. They offered some reason for my disqualification calling my fast race time wind-aided and no longer fast enough.
I was disappointed. I was looking forward to running in the nationals.
Later on, I found out a white student had protested my time and could afford to pay for his own ticket. So they gave it to him.
I was devastated and confused. I ran faster than everyone at the meet and earned my spot to compete.
What did I do wrong?
Raised to Respond with Kindness and Love
My parents used the opportunity to teach the realities of what it meant to be Black in the United States. My mom would say some people don’t want to see African-Americans win, but you have to be a better person than them. Never let them know that they are hurting you, even when it does.
They taught me it’s not right to be treated differently because of your race. However, you can help change that by letting people see who you are and always be positive and a leader. Kill their dislike or hate for you with kindness and love.
I wish I could say I never had to use this lesson again. I wish I could say that moment at 12 years old was the last time I had shown restraint and felt powerless over my circumstances. Unfortunately, as I’ve come to find out, it was only the beginning.
Three Lessons I Want My Children to Learn
I am now a father of two beautiful children—a daughter and a son. As racial injustice becomes a constant topic in the media, I pray and hope that my two children will grow up in an America that sees their heart and character as true Christians and not the color of their skin.
And while I can hope that recent events and conversations will lead to a change in the way people of color are treated—as a Christian and as a dad, I’m putting my hope in God first. And I’m teaching my kids to do the same.
1. Always put God first and pray to Him for help.
Prayer is an essential part of our lives. I remind my children to always put God first and pray to Him—to thank Him, to ask for help and guidance, and for protection against evil-minded people who may want to do them harm.
In a recent worship service lesson, we were reminded by the Executive Minister of the Church Of Christ, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, that there will be injustices that we must endure while we are on this earth. In the face of these challenges, we have to remember to stay focused and hold on to our citizenship in heaven.
It’s a reminder I carry with me every day as I lead my family.
2. Be an example of what love is to their friends and peers.
I pray that my kids, who are half Black and half Filipino, do not have to suffer the racism and hate that I experience in life because of the color of my skin. However, at their young age, I encourage them to show their peers how to love each other no matter what others look like on the outside. If they do that, then this world can start to change.
I remind them, “While you cannot change a person, but if they are receptive to wanting to change, then it’s possible.” There are people peacefully protesting to see laws change so that when my children become adults, they do not go through the racism that I experienced growing up.
3. They are created by God and are beautiful no matter what.
I want my children to know that beauty isn’t dictated by the world. We are held to a higher standard. In the Church Of Christ, we are taught that God’s children are not Filipino, African-American, French, Caucasian, or any other specific race. We are citizens of heaven, and that’s the standard we live by.
Because of my membership in the Church Of Christ, I feel calm but confident that God always uses His children as an instrument to shine light in this world.
My Responsibility to Teach My Kids to Love in the Face of Hate
Now I can’t say it’s always been easy. I’ve been pulled over with my daughter and wife in the car. With my hands on the steering wheel, I could hear my daughter crying and scared in the back. As her dad, I wanted nothing but to comfort her and explain what was happening. But all I could say was, “I don’t know, baby girl.”
But despite these experiences, I want them to see how our faith is what still gets me through.
At a young age, I want them to know they can pray to God, the same way I’ve learned to turn to prayer, the same way our family prays every evening together. But I know I have to do more than hope they follow my example. Like my parents did with me, I’m choosing to take an active role in helping them navigate the uncertainty, unfairness, and reality of being Black in America.
Parenting, especially in the world we’re currently living in, is difficult. Our children are facing and will face things we may never have imagined. This year has shown us that and more, but what continues to guide my wife and me are the words of God.
Let God’s Words Help You Navigate Parenthood
Learn how God’s words can guide your parenting. Visit incmedia.org/faithandfamily and discover how other Christian parents are navigating difficult conversations, explaining current events, and dealing with the ‘new normal.’
If you’d like to learn more about how God’s words guide you as a parent, set up a time to speak one-on-one with a minister of the Church Of Christ.