God have mercy on me, a sinner.
Friends, we must lament, repent, pray, learn, & act. I am not an important voice in anti racism (please elevate voices of BIPOC always) & I thought a lot about even sharing anything because I’m learning (always still in process) to not center my voice but to still speak up & more importantly act. Breaking down white supremacy & affirming the created dignity & worth of all people is central to my faith. It must be a life lived in learning & action, in seeking to follow and not leading, & in seeing Jesus’ flipping over tables when injustice reigns. I’ve too often failed and will continue to fail but I am committed to learning. For us “white” people we must attack our idol of competency. If the truth hurts you or you are defensive and unwilling to listen you know something is amiss. We can live in a posture of questioning and learning or of entrenchment and defensiveness. The air we breathe in America informs our white supremacy- it is our original sin- one that we have never repented of or repaired. Well meaning people try to do good (myself included) but we center ourselves and offer charity which often maintains our false belief that we are the white savior instead of being willing to be wrong, to offer true repair and justice because that requires more dismantling than we can fit into our feeds.
After several convos this week I wanted to share a few things for my white friends in this moment:
- Learn history. Don’t expect people of color to teach you everything- do your work. Resources are out there. If we understand more of how our history shapes our present we can work to dismantle systems that were constructed to prevent certain people from flourishing. It’s hard & messy & exactly where God calls us to engage. If something you learn makes you uncomfortable ask why. Always interrogate whose voice is excluded from the narratives we’ve been taught. Resist the urge to entrench and be defensive & be open to learning. Seek to listen and be taught by those voices that are out there without demanding them to teach you. The self-sacrificing labor (emotional, spiritual, & physical) of people of color to educate our nation should be more than appreciated- support their work. Become a monthly donor of organizations led by people of color doing justice work on the world (like The Witness Foundation). Be led & be a supporter without insisting on your way of doing things.
- Talk to your kids! This is challenging AND necessary. Don’t share something or post a hashtag if you are unwilling to have hard conversations with your children. This sign we saw last week started a long discussion on the constitution and how we continue to fight for a more just nation. History informs everything that is occurring now. Teach your white children about their privilege & wonder & pray with them about what justice means. Cry out to God together about justice for all & talk about how we can lay down our rights so others can simply live & breathe and flourish. For our family this is so complicated to create a safe space for our Black daughter as well & we are learning. These past weeks have reminded us of the need to be diligent in the work of raising our children to walk humbly & do justice. We will continue to seek unity but not at the expense of God created diversity.
- BIPOC’s voices should be centered and listened to but we should not expect them to do our work. Feeling white guilt does nothing to change the story or move towards real justice. Posting a selfie of you at a rally does nothing (and can be dangerous if you include faces of others). Just because you feel bad it is not enough. It is our work to root out white supremacy in ourselves & each other. To do this requires admitting the ways we have been complicit in ignoring or only caring when it’s trending. If you can post & then walk away that is the definition of privilege (Lord, forgive me-a sinner). Listen & be led. Take action. Commit to changing YOU!
- Starting places (not complete list for sure & feel free to add resources in the comments): pray & ask God to give you His vision for justice in the world (I need to grow in my desire & willingness to do this so much), talk to each other- have face to face convos on hard things with an attitude of a learner, be in majority minority spaces (only where you are invited) & don’t lead- listen, watch, & learn, give to organizations doing justice work led by BIPOC, listen to Truth’s Table podcast, Pass the Mic podcast, Combing the Roots Podcast with Ally Henny, read The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, read The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby, follow the work of Equal Justice Initiative, read I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown, read Prophetic Lament: a Call for Justice In Troubled Times by Soong-Chan Rah, listen to the 1619 Project podcast, watch 13th on Netflix, follow Chasing Justice & The Global Immersion Project on Instagram (many more people to follow on my Instagram stories), read and dicuss Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad, read White Awake by Daniel Hill, watch Many Rivers to Cross documentary with your kids, enroll in a local college course on African American History.
I say starting places because this is not the real work but a start & we all must be on a journey. These are resources that have informed & continue to shape mine. We will not arrive or be competent & while that feels uncomfortable it is the only posture we can truly be changed & grow in. God help us love now.