This week I had a blog written and ready to go by Wednesday, which for me seems rare. But as I watched this weekend play out in Charlottesville, it felt empty to post about something other than my reflections on what occurred in America. So instead I penned this for this week. Know that I am viewing this as a white Christian female. I view social justice and the Gospel as one in the same. Jesus fought for the marginalized. Jesus advocated for those the Pharisees viewed as less than.
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.” Romans 12:9-13 MSG
When it comes to injustice and specifically to racial injustice, I fear speaking. I fear I will say the wrong thing or expose my own personal biases leaving me vulnerable and wrong. I fear I will offend someone. I fear I won’t tread lightly or I won’t walk with enough boldness. But if I continue to let fear win, I perpetuate the problems we continue to see in America.
So with this, I fear no more. I have biases, we all do. But today I face them. I will not show myself perfect in doing so on this platform or others, call me out. But as I reflect on what I’ve said or not said, I will no longer push my voice to the wayside of the conversations we must have.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
This weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia white people armed with hate and torches flooded a city and rioted. They evoked emblems of white supremacists Nazis, KKK and slavery. Their actions meant to lessen the humanity of those that are different than them. There were not tanks or curfews. There were no arrests for stepping off of a sidewalk like in Ferguson, MO. With boldness and pride they pushed others to the side. One of them drove his car through a crowd injuring many and killing one.
The disregard for humanity, the hate, the fear make me sick to my stomach. The lack of our government to call this out for what it is causes me anguish and disgust. And yet, I’m no longer surprised. I’m not surprised that a group of white people would feel comfortable enough to act in this way. It feels like such common place to read what is happening around me and read about entire people groups being marginalized, oppressed, and literally beaten and killed because of who they are and what they stand for, equality. While I’m not surprised, I’m still disgusted.
This must end.
Tonight I attended a vigil in my town at a park built to reconcile the vile act of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. I stood and listened to people of differing color and creeds speak eloquently and boldly. Their calls to action go beyond showing up after one day. The hate we saw on display this weekend goes beyond the images of Nazi flags and racial epithets. At the vigil my good friend Nate spoke and so plainly stated hate goes beyond the hoods. Hate is the silence. Hate is in the disregard. Hate is in the inaction. Hate runs deeper than the emblems displayed this weekend. Complacency to act breeds the very hate we all saw on display in Charlottesville.
White people, we must dive into the discomfort of our privilege and acknowledge how we’ve benefited from a system that has oppressed others. It sucks, but we cannot move forward until we do. We must put our voice into the conversation. This problem cannot and will not be solved until we white people start addressing it. The Emancipation Proclamation, Civil Rights, the end of World War II, while all momentous steps in some ways, did not solve the problem. It is 2017 and racism exists. Racism runs deep and it is being fed by fear mongering and inaction.
So white people, we must educate ourselves. We must pop the bubble we’ve been living in. Learn about your privilege. Acknowledge your own biases. Read books. Read articles. Watch movies. Go listen to people and organizations who are speaking out and standing up for equality. When you hear of injustice or racism, address it in love. But address it. Stand with others. Learn from others. But do the work on yourself.
James Baldwin once said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” I believe we can do a better job to change the racism our country faces. But first we must face it.
Each of us possess a voice. Each of us stand on a platform. Look at yourself and decide how you will you use that? I pray that each of use our voice to seek justice, to advocate, to begin to reconcile. I pray each of us uses our voice to face the changes in mindsets and the changes in hearts needed for real equality.
Here are just a few resources to start reading and learning from. There are many more out there!
Tim Wise http://www.timwise.org/about/
James Baldwin (lots of articles and essays and books) and/or the film I am Not Your Negro
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Born A Crime, Trevor Noah
The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
The Hate You Give, Angie Thomas