A heinous act has occurred. Nine beautiful people are dead and one is injured. A community is in the spot light for racial violence. And black people all over this country are lifting up their voices and crying out.
And so are white people, but too many of us aren’t crying out with our wounded neighbors, our brothers, our sisters.
The question is, what are you crying out?
Was the first thing that popped into your head when the topic of racism and hatred and violence came center stage: “well, I’m not a racist.”
Did you feel defensive?
None of us like to be lumped in with the perpetrators of a crime.
But to push away the horror of this act, of so many similar acts, with the distancing statement, “well, I’m not a racist,” is to choose complicity with the systemic racism that still runs through the backbone of our nation like a cancer.
And don’t talk to me about a black president. Just because we’ve made some progress doesn’t mean it’s enough. Not when so much hatred is being taught in families and organizations every day all across the country.
This blog is supposed to be about the little daily graces in life, a celebration of the moments of joy and the beauty in what could otherwise be the mundane.
So let’s talk about moments of racial grace.
If you are white and you’ve ever interacted with a black person, you experienced racial grace. Grace for your unawareness, for the things you said and did that you may never remember. Every time your unthinkingness, yes your privilege, has gone un-called out by a black person, they extended you grace. Unmerited favor. Because so much wrong has been done to black people in America by white people in America that you are complicit in if you are not joining in the outcry against racism in this country.
I’ve been complicit far too often by just not wanting to speak up, or to speak loud enough. All of us have. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror.
This isn’t about guilt. Just as a black person is born into one reality by virtue of skin, so we are born into another reality. If you are white, then by virtue of the color of your skin, which you had no say in, you were born into a dominate culture where you could take many things for granted.
And yet over and over you’ve been extended grace by black people who by virtue of added melanin have dealt with everything from rudeness and slights to verbal abuse and physical violence on some scale every day.
I think the least we as white people can do is stop being defensive and examine the systemic racism in our culture and in our hearts and start to root it out. If all of us did that, it would soon be gone, for all big changes start with me.
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For more reading see:
11 Ways White America Avoids Taking Responsibility for Its Racism
Why It Matters That the Charleston Shooter Went after a Black Church in the South