the weblog of Alan Knox

Replay (for Black History Month): I am not black

Posted by on Feb 9, 2013 in discipleship | 5 comments

Five years ago, during Black History Month (February), I wrote a post that revealed something very personal about myself: “I am not black.” I know what you’re thinking: “Alan isn’t usually that personal on his blog…” Well, this time, I had to get very personal and tell my readers the truth. I’m a caucasian. I’m also male and a citizen of the United States. I know… that surprises you. But, it’s true.

Now that that’s out of the way… I hope you enjoy this post anyway.


I am not black

Since February is Black History Month, I thought I would take this opportunity to make a confession: I am not black. I realize that this comes as no surprise to those of you who know me, or to those of you who can see my picture at the top of this page. However, for the remainder of my readers, I thought that I should make this point clear. I am not black.

I have a very good friend who is black (I miss you, by the way). I learn alot about what it means to be a black man in the United States by listening to him. I do not become black by listening to him, but I do gain a different perspective than I would have otherwise. And, as I have learned more about what it means to be a black man in the United States, I have also learned more about how to love and serve people who are different from me.

In the spirit of the post, I will continue the confessions: I am not a woman. God did not make me a woman. I have never been a woman. However, my wife is a woman. She has taught me alot about what it means to be a woman. Sometimes, I listen to her and I learn. I learn about the struggles of being a woman and about the difficulties of being a mother. I also learn about many of the joys. Even though I’ve learned from her, this does not make me a woman, but it does help give me a different perspective and, hopefully, to understand women a little more.

Also, I was not born in another country. Even though some people suggest that Alabama is another country, it is not – I checked. However, I have some good friends who were not born in the United States. They struggle with many things because they are in a foreign country. They face many difficulties. I’ve learned about some of these struggles and difficulties by listening to them. This does not make me a foreigner, but it does help me understand their perspective, and it helps me to know how to love and serve others who are not from this country.

By the way, I’ve never been a foster child or an orphan. Never. I was raised in a loving home with my birth mother and my birth father and a younger brother who was my full sibling. I knew that my parents cared about me, and I think my brother liked me most of the time. I do not know what its like to be an orphan or a foster child. But, I have recently met a man who was raised in several foster families. I’ve already started listening to him, and I think he has much to teach me. I’m looking forward to hearing his perspective and learning more about God and life and love from him.

I am not black. I am not a woman. I am not a foreigner. I am not a foster child. But, God has shown me that I can learn from a black man, a woman, my foreign friends, and even a person who grew up in foster families. I can learn about God. I can learn about people. I can learn about life. I can learn about love and acceptance and redemption and hope. I can learn what it means to live together in community in the Spirit with those who are different from me. And, I can learn that I need to hear and grow from their perspectives, just as they can learn and grow from mine.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-9-2013

    Alan: Your blog evokes many thoughts and memories. About 4 years ago (2009) I was in the hospital with a heart attack, and my neighbor in the other bed was as white as your or me. But, as he said, he was a descendant of Thomas Jefferson, from the Black side of the family. Having taught in for two years in a Black college, South Carolina State, I had the interesting experience of having one of Sally Hemings (Internet and Wikipedia, though my experience was two “Ms”, spelling) (and, supposedly, Thomas Jefferson) descendants), The young lady in one of my history classes was what is termed mulatto, a very beautiful and attractive person). I graduated from a Black Univ., Lincoln in Mo., having studied Black History there and in my M.A. program in Morehead State in Ky., and in my work toward the Ph.D. at Columbia Univ. where I wrote a prospectus for a doctoral dissertation. Actually, Blacks and Whites in the South, or, at least, they were, are closer to one another culturally and socially, than they are to their counterparts in the North.

    As to learning, consider this. I had never heard the prejudice that African Americans were inferior to Whites, though I lived in a very prejudiced area of the South. When I attended Lincoln, I had the pleasure of being taught by an internationally noted Black Historian, Dr. Lorenzo J. Greene, who had a Ph.D. from Columbia Univ., 1940. By that time I had attended five other schools above the secondary level, I found Dr. Greene to be a very competent scholar who knew his history. I remember him relating facts that I later had a occasion to check out, when I attended Columbia in the Summer of 1971. He had made reference to the Islamic Scholars of the University Mosque of Sankore which is in Timbuktu in Mali. I wrote a paper on the subject, “Intellectuals of the Western Sudan,” focusing essentially and primarily on one Ahmed Baba, the “rare Jewell of Learning,” Who was considered so great a scholar that the Moroccans carried him off to Morocco to teach in one of their university mosques, when they conquered the Songhai Empire. Also, while at Lincoln, I had a professor in Sociology who was a theoretician for World Communism, scholarly term is Marxism. Imagine that!

  2. 2-10-2013

    Listening to people…trying to understand what they face…great post (but surely Alabama IS a different country!).

  3. 2-10-2013

    Everyone has a story – you’d do well to encourage them to tell it.

    Everyone has unqiue and wonderful giftings, you’d do well to somehow find a way that people would naturally (by using their God given gifting to assist others) be assimilated into a group.

    Everyone has prejudices, you’d do well not to ignore those as if they didn’t exist – and get to the bottom of the issues in one another’s lives.

    The sinful nature is the same whether you’re white, black, red, yellow, or green. It is sinful. The idea that ‘society’ can get a long and do the right thing – and all of that – would be a naive one that denies the existance of a sinful nature.

    Jesus (the man walking on this earth) wasn’t black or white – He was somewhere in the middle – and that was not an oversight on the Father’s part.

    When God puts you with someone with a much different upbringing and culture than you – you should get into that person’s head and heart as far as you can go – because you’re not going to have that many wonderful opportunities – and their stories can and will really change your life and perspective. The deeper you go – the more you find out – they are a whole lot like you.

  4. 2-10-2013

    I married a black woman over 13 years ago, and that was an educational experience! Different culture, different way of talking, etc. I’m still learning!

  5. 2-12-2013

    Thanks for commenting everyone. I’m glad this post resonated with a few others besides just myself.