brighter futures

Taking Advantage of a Teachable Moment

Recently on the way to an 8th grade basketball game (I’m the coach for Clark/Roosevelt) I overheard some of my players calling an Indian boy on our team a “terrorist”. Knowing the two boys who were making the comments I understood that they were mostly joking around with the boy whom they both like. Yet as I sat there I sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me to take advantage of the opportunity, a teachable moment if you will. When we entered the locker room I told the kids we were having a team meeting. I gathered them around a marker board and began to write the words: Black White Indian. I then told them that I had been offended by some of the language that was used on the bus and wanted to talk about it. I asked them to shout out negative terms or thoughts that people have about each of the three races on the board before them. “Racist” they said for whites, “poor” they said for blacks, “terrorist” they said for Indian. I then had three boys come forward as representatives of each race and asked them to say things that described them. “Funny”, “Hilarious”, “Fun to be around”, were some of their responses. I told them that language, whether joking or not, says a lot about how we choose to think about each other. A prejudice, I said, was when you chose to have negative views about all people in a race or ethnicity, because of a few bad apples. “I am a white man, and there are white men who are in the KKK, but I hope that when you met me you didn’t think I was an angry racist bigot.” I closed the time by saying that scripture says that we should treat others the way we would want to be treated and that we should do the same with the words we use toward each other. As I reflect on the whole interaction, which lasted about 5 minutes, I am thankful mostly that I was “there”, that I was able to speak the truth of God into a teachable moment with these young men who have come to really like and respect me. I am convinced that many of them, especially the Muslim Indian, will remember my words for the rest of their lives. Thanks to everyone who supports SCYM and gives me the opportunity to be “there” in teachable moments like this.

Chris LeMaster
Associate Director

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *