Letter to My White New England Yearly Meeting Friends
by James Varner
Letter to my white New England Yearly Meeting Friends:
I am James Varner, a Friend of color.
I am called black but I am really a beautiful brown which so many of you work so hard with suntan lotion to get. What is up with that? Black humans in this country for the most part are brown. You Caucasians are pink not white, so what’s up with this “white people” and “black people” business?
Guess what, under this tissue called skin we are all 100% alike. I have, as a man of color, type O blood and if you’re white, with type O blood like me, and you’re in the hospital having a major operation and you needed some O type blood to save your life, would you say “I don’t want Jim Varner’s blood because he is a man of color?” I think not! I think you would say please, please give me that brother’s blood!
We need to realize that there is just one race, the human race. We are all mammals and we come in many colors, straight hair, curly hair, different shapes of eyes but all eyes see the same. As mammals, regardless of color, we can all reproduce and the color of our skin or blood type does not make a difference. I, a brother of color, was married to a beautiful Swede for 50 beautiful, warm, love-filled years. I lost my love to cancer but we have three beautiful sons and one beautiful daughter, April Joy. Some of their skins are lighter than mine but they all are beautiful humans with something of God in all of them just like you.
But you already know that. You know that because you are a Quaker but do you really, really believe and act on it fully and completely? You can’t have it both ways. God, my friends, does not discriminate. God loves all his or her children equally and just so, you should love all the members of the human race equally! To not love all humans the same is a sin and to not treat all God’s creation and the same is wrong. When you look at another human regardless of their race, color, lifestyle, what you should say is “but for the grace of God there go I”, there goes me, my wife, my children, and my husband, another one of God’s creation and treat each how you want to be treated. Am I am my brother’s keeper? What am I doing to help with the realization of the beloved community? Is being a Quaker just for show or am I honest and willing to stand with all human beings? Am I able to treat all human beings the way I want to be treated? Am I treated them the way I want my loved ones treated? There is no greater man than a man that lays down his life for another mine for his brother!
Do you understand why we have the Black Lives Matter movement in America or do you say, as so many of my pink brothers say “All lives matter”? if you say the latter you are out of touch. You are not hearing what black people are saying. We are saying that White Americans are still ignoring the effects of 300 years of slavery in America. We are saying that while your ancestors, even if they didn’t own slaves, passed on resources, you are shutting your eyes, minds, and hearts to the fact of us being viewed as animals less than human — whipped, shackled in chains, lynched, castrated, sold like chattel and sheep at the slave markets with no regard for keeping families together. People like me went to the highest bidder, parents one way and children the other way. Think how painful this was, a husband taken one way and his wife the other way.
- I am sorry, very sorry to say the effects of slavery in America are still being felt today.
- One out of every three black males born in America today will serve time in jail.
- People of color make up more than 50% of the prison population.
- The legal system is harder on blacks, much harder than it is on Whites for the same crimes.
- Back in the late 1990s, the Governor of Illinois did away with the death penalty because with improvement in DNA testing they found they were killing innocent blacks all over the country.
- The US attorney general office discovered that in Chicago and some other large cities innocent people of color were beaten and whipped until they confessed to a crime they did not commit.
- Drugs are being planted on innocent people of color who are jailed and with a prison record, you lose the right to vote and have a hard time, very hard time getting a job. (Ed. note: compare and contrast the above list with the previous article on being arrested.
- Black drivers who committed no crime are stopped and given a hard time by police just because they are black. I know this from experience.
- You read every day about people of color being killed; a simple traffic violation resulting in death, a little Black child playing on the playground with a toy gun is shot dead by a policeman, nine members of a church in South Carolina invite a young white man in to have a Bible study with them only to be murdered by this sick white boy filled with hate and wanting to start a race war.
- James Earl Bird of Jasper Texas (a man who looked like me), stopped by 4 drunken white men, chained to the back of a truck dragged until his head was torn from his body. Oh, how he must have screamed and what awful pain he must have felt.
- We are the last to be hired and the first to be fired.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of crimes against blacks that are being committed daily that we are finding out because of a cell phone and now cameras on police and in their cars.
I could go on and on about the nightmare of being black in America. At 84, as a black civil rights worker who marched and worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (I walked in his Atlanta Georgia funeral with the late Robert Kennedy who was later assassinated in California that same year), I know how very mean many of my white brothers and sisters can be. I pray each night before I go to sleep and many nights I cry that no harm will come to my three sons, my daughter, and 10 grandchildren at the hands of some sick white person filled with hate of blacks. I am very afraid to answer my phone when it rings for fear that harm has come to one of my children.
My friends, what the Black Lives Matter movement is saying is that black lives are just as important as white lives, just as important — not more important, just as important. Why, why my white friends is it so very hard for so many of you to love us as humans with something of God in us? Why, why my white friends, is it so easy for so many of you to hate and want to do us harm because of the color of our skin? Why is it so hard for you, my white brothers and sisters, to get beyond just words and act in love for us blacks the same as each other? The Black Lives Matter movement is saying all human life should be treated with love and respect; after all, whether we like it or not, we are all God’s children and part of the human race.
I ask my white NEYM Friends; what are you and your meeting doing to support the Black Lives Matter movement and do away with the treatment and conditions in America that caused the Black Lives Matter to be so needed?
Love, my friends, is the answer. It can’t happen without you, without your love now!