All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Without blacks, my life would have been colorless! Some Black History Month musings

I propose that those of us who are white make Black History Month a time for reflection, showing gratitude to God for placing people of color along our pathway. I can tell you this: African Americans helped shape the life, the personality and the mission of Doug Tjapkes.

My life was never the same

-after, at the age of 17 in my very first radio job, hearing Sister Mattie Davis of the Heavenly Echoes broadcast praying for the ‘policemens and firemens’ who were on duty through the night in racially insensitive Muskegon in the 50s

-after meeting and hearing the Spiritualaires, a black singing group that taught me just how little white people know about a cappella gospel music

-after granting the Rev. Cy Young a guest appearance on my radio show in Grand Haven in the 70s, as I listened spell-bound to his recitation of ‘I Have a Dream’

-after weeping and praying at the bedside of gospel singer Alma James Perry, whose glorious soprano voice was silenced far too early by cancer

-after adding Asonja James’ soprano descant to the anthem ‘Majesty,’ so majestically performed by this dear woman and HIS MEN in the Crystal Cathedral

-after spending 9 years trying to free a wrongly convicted black man named Maurice Carter, one of the most decent, kind and gentle individuals I’ve ever met

-after having one of my favorite people and favorite vocalists, Ben Reynolds, sing the old gospel song to me during a very difficult time: ‘I’ll be all right!’

-after my friend Pastor Rodney Gulley stood tall against blatant racism in so many forms, some of which took the lives of his son, father, grandfather and great-grandfather

-after kindling relationships with hundreds of black men and women behind bars in my pleasurable, gratifying and ordained role as an advocate for ‘the least of these!’

My life would have been colorless without the influx and influence of people of color. To those listed above, and many others, I owe a debt of gratitude. I feel pity for those who haven’t experienced this richness. I feel sadness for those who embrace ideas of white supremacy. “Hating skin color is contempt for God's divine creative imagination. Honoring it is appreciation for conscious, beautiful-love-inspired diversity.” 
― T.F. Hodge

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”
—Desmond Tutu


Lynn Wheaton said...

Good essay, Doug! Appreciate being on FB with you. Trust you're feeling better since your recent health issues. I just had surgery for basal carcinoma on a shin bone of all places. Doing much better now, for which I'm thankful.

Like they say (whoever 'they' are) getting older isn't for sissies!


Louise Reichert said...

SO well written, Doug! Beautiful words and beautiful images. How I wish people could just love one another and appreciate the unique gifts each brings to this world!