I think I’m still part of the problem of keeping racism alive. My heart aches for the plight of black men and women in our nation. My heart grieves for the pervasiveness of racism that still lives. But I’m certain I’m still contributing to it and I don’t want to anymore. Every tumultuous uprising can be a forum for personal reform (which is how authentic broad-based reform comes to pass) so I’m asking God, “Please reform me.”
I’m in love with the diversity of the color of people’s skin. I’m in love with the diversity of people’s unique cultures. I’m in love with the nuances that come with that diversity. Life would be lifeless without the richness of relationship that crosses race, skin color, and culture. As best I know, there is nothing in my heart that would cause me to assign value based on any of those diversities.
However, I’m coming to terms with this, that while I’m not a racist, I am likely still contributing to keeping racism alive. Honestly, that knocks the air of out of me. I want to try to give language to some of what I’m discovering. The reflections that follow have each become meaningful in helping me see more clearly how an anti-racist white woman can contribute to racism.
That’s a phrase I have permanently retired. Bottom line: it’s not true and was a lazy way of trying to say that I’m not racist. In reality, I am not colorblind at all. There can’t be space for lazy language when people have suffered and continue to suffer unjustly because of their skin color. I thank my black friend who asked me if I would not use that phrase anymore. Some things are VERY simple to change.
“Say what you see.”
I watched a compelling exchange between an anti-racist white man and a black man. The white man was asking sincerely what he should do during this upheaval that would be helpful. The black man asked him to “say what you see.” That’s something I can do. When I see an injustice taking place, I can say what I see. I can call it out. I might not have the language or education I’d like to have, but when I witness an act of racism, at the very least I can call it out for the vile thing it is. That does not mean I have to seep into the vat of hate speech and become part of the racial polarization of our nation. It means I take responsibility for what’s in front of me. I do my part to call out injustice.
White privilege is real.
I will never once in my life have to face what my black brothers and sisters face daily. Never. As I have listened to the experiences of black people in America today, I see more clearly that I enjoy luxuries and a sense of safety for no reason other than for the color of my skin. For me to argue otherwise is simply to bury my head and refuse to see what’s in front of me. I want this reality to inform my responses to all things racial.
An anti-racist white woman can promote racism.
I cannot escape this. There are many facets of life where through ignorance I can contribute to the neglect of another human being. Neglect is damaging. Neglect a person and you impact all persons connected to them. Provide for an individual and you ultimately help everyone in their sphere. It’s one thing to be ignorant if there is no source of information to inform oneself. But there is too much valuable information available during these months of racial unrest for me to stay ignorant. I’m already horribly late to the party. There will be no excuse for me to remain part of the problem. The Lord has practically knocked me over the head, “Get an education already, and stop adding to the problem through your ignorance.”
Ignorance promotes neglect.
As I retrain my brain to see and respond to racism differently, that is a phrase I will have to keep reciting to myself. Through my negligence (the product of my ignorance) I have directly contributed to the innumerable unjust acts perpetrated against black people. At a minimum, I am guilty of the sin of omission. That’s a grievous sin. My silence becomes an unjust act of its own. As a follower of Jesus Christ, it means I’m guilty of woefully misrepresenting Jesus and His nature. It requires that I repent before Him, before my black brothers and sisters, and before black people everywhere. So I do that. I repent. I turn from my wrong behavior and purpose to emulate the life of my Savior, who loved unconditionally, sacrificially, and without prejudice.
Let us all hope that the dark cloud of racial prejudiceMartin Luther King, Jr | Letter From A Birmingham Jail
will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding
will be lifted from our fear drenched communities,
and in some not too distant tomorrow
the radiant stars of love and brotherhood
will shine over our great nation
with all their scintillating beauty.