That is Me

Tick tock...Tick tock… every second seems like forever. I wrestle to get comfortable. Turn left… quickly turn right… sigh. Is it the new PJs? Am I too hot or too cold? With my eyes wide open and excitement building, I realize sleep is far away right now. But I don’t care it is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is right around the corner.

That was me as a kid growing up. I grew up in the projects of Chicago in a world of poverty, where there were just a few things that made me forget what we didn’t have. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day made me feel like we had it all.

Christmas Eve was spent making sure the lights on the tree were on, the star was set on very top, and eating some fun sweet sugar evening snack. After bath time we would run around in our new PJs and then head to bed, full of energy and excitement of what could be under the tree Christmas morning. One Christmas brought hope that I’d build my collection of G I Joe action figures. This was the toy I wanted and played with my brother and friends the most (outside of my Fisher Price barn).

Boy on Christmas
You see, that year not only did I get my GI Joe, it was the year I got my first GI Joe that looked like me, a black man... This cool, strong hero, who could go on adventures looked like me. – Syd Harvey, VP of Multicultural Engagement

I love these toys because GI Joe was cool, strong, and a hero in my mind. So, of course I dreamed of the latest version being added to my collection! I made sure my mom got all the messages I could come up with. Communicating to her in as many ways as I could, pointing out to my old GI Joe’s needed a new friend. Circling every toy magazine that had a picture of a GI Joe in his latest adventure and presenting it to her.

So, as I slept that night restless and trying to control my excitement, I only hoped that my mom got the message loud and clear.

Well this was the Christmas I would remember and shape me in a great way. You see that year not only did I get my GI Joe, it was the year I got my first GI Joe that looked like me, a black man. That was so cool. My expectations were blown out of the water. This cool, strong hero, who could go on adventures looked like me.

Studies show that by four years old, kids not only see the color of people’s skin but they also develop an understanding of race. Meaning that kids in our Western culture learn messages of race and racism. Through social media, TV and observing the world around them, kids learn that if you are this color it means... if you speak that language or use those type of words that you are that color... If you do this activity you are that color... if you live in this type of neighborhood you must be that color…

Toddler toys at Heartside Community Christmas Store

“So God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him…” - Genesis 1:27. 

When I understand this and see myself being created in God's image, I look at myself differently in the mirror. There is a WOW factor to think and know that who I see is made in God’s image. I am not a mistake. I am not some afterthought or left over idea but directly from my Creator's image.

Then I look at my coworkers, neighbors, church body and guests here at the Mission. God is the master artist in how he weaves the beautiful hues and different shades of color around us in so many ways. Ways that when we stop and notice His handiwork the more we realize white, black, or brown does not come close to describe the amazing artist God is and what He has created within each one of us.

Christmas is about the sign of hope being fulfilled by God’s promise to us. This promise of hope is not just for one group or a certain group but rather for all who walk this earth. God’s hope and promise is for all shades and hues of a color that are beyond our imagination.

Each year, Mel Trotter Ministries and Dégagé Ministries open their Heartside Community Christmas Store to help families in hard times buy gifts for their families. Doing this allows parents to shop and find toys, books, and board games for their kids in an empowering way. Your generosity will allow kids to see themselves reflected in a special toy and this forms an important building block to their self-esteem. You will bring surprise and honor to our kids with an assurance that they are a reflection of God creativity and beauty. 

Will you help us make sure we have toys, books, and games that reflect the variety of cultures that we serve?