By BENJAMIN KETTOR
In the midst of the racial tensions in America, there are so many untold stories being revealed. Some people have made a blanket statement against the police officers. Others have generalized the belief that the whites are against the blacks. As an African man living in America, let me share with you one of my memorable experiences. Life in America as an international student is challenging to say the least.
It all started back in 2007, in Upstate New York, in pursuit of higher education. When it was time for the Christmas vacation that year, I needed a place to stay during the break. The dorms were going to be closed and no one was allowed to remain on campus. Having no other place to stay, I began to wonder on what will become of me after the campus is closed.
To my surprise, I was introduced to an American family that I did not have any personal connection with at the time. Little did I also know that another family had agreed to host me for few days earlier. For the first time, I was introduced to my soon to be host outside of the dormitory and eventually their two loving children among other family members. They happily took me as their son and I will never forget their generosity. When I had no place to go, they took me in and since then we’ve become family. Still to this day, the same bedroom I was lodged in for the first time since 2007 is always available for me in their house.
Today, I call them “Mom and Dad” (Shelly and Ken Wilcox). Their children are my brother and sister (Mike and Rachel). Their parents are my grandparents. I’m eternally grateful to this family for hosting a stranger like me. Oh guess what? They are white folks. They did not care whether I was a black person or not. Ken even travelled with me back to my home country Liberia on three separate occasions and continues to do humanitarian services together up to this date.
It is worth noting though that racial disparity in America has been from the time this nation was founded. It has been part of the American culture. The recent tipping point is evidence of many unpleasant stories still untold. The George Floyd killing was an awful act in broad daylight that no sensible person will support.
I say all this to say that even in the midst of all the racial tensions in America, let us not loose sight of the many good folks out there who are against the injustices that people of color continue to experience over the years. We all need to join forces together to overcome the challenge. When something goes wrong, point out the doer of the act rather than generalizing an entire race of people.
May God take us through these difficult times and fill us with love for our fellow human beings. Black, White, Brown, etc, we all bleed the same blood. We were all made in the image of God.
— Benjamin Kettor is a Liberian native who recently helped La Mesa Sunrise Rotary bring 70,000 books to his home country. To read more about Kettor, read the La Mesa Courier article “Many grains of Sand” by Joyell Nevins at bit.ly/39fnCdc.