I think all of us should be disturbed and grief stricken that somehow this painful American tradition of violent racism seems to continue. To lament is to join in the collective sorrow that once again, this hatred has claimed even more precious lives. Blood has been spilled, and tears are flooding a weary, yet stoic black community. So senseless, so seemingly unending. I find myself bracing my heart for the next round headlines that will gut us once again. And it’s nauseating. Because the reality is, unless a whole lot of us start having some HARD conversations, and start to make some REAL changes, this evil cycle is going to destroy us all. We have to end this madness.
I’m weary from the headlines of black lives being ended, repeatedly, violently. I’m pissed by the collective resignation that this is somehow how things are going to be. I call bull. This doesn’t have to be our story. We have the power to change the narrative if we can have the courage to engage the root of racism and really wrestle it to the ground.
I hesitated to write anything because of the glaring whiteness of my own skin. How racist of me? To assume that this is somehow a “black problem” that only black people can speak to. If I resign myself to silence then I too am complicit in the violence. Silence is no longer an option for any of us.
This morning I find myself even more aware of the responsibility I have as a parent. I’m raising a white boy. His privilege can either be shepherded to fight for those who face injustice, or it can be fodder for the ancestry of oppression. I shudder to think of the MANY conversations his father and I will have with him, preparing him to steward his privilege well. My hope for him is to be a man of great compassion, that he would be a devoted freedom fighter, a man after God’s own heart. The irony that I have the privilege of having this be one of the primary worries I have for my son is not lost on me. It isn’t fair. But his father and I will run headlong into this responsibility, with real intention, rather than retreating to the ignorance that he will somehow come to this realization on his own. We simply won’t risk culture speaking an alternative narrative over him. The cost is too great.
To my white friends – we have to do better. When we see racism we have to speak up. Just the other day an image popped up in my facebook feed that hit me wrong. “That seems racist,” I thought, and instead of saying something I simply scrolled past. Those tiny retreats from dialogue are what slowly feed the fuel of racism. It’s time for us to have the courage to meet those small moments head on if we are to have any chance of stopping these larger violent expressions of hate.
To the black community – I cannot begin to know what it’s like to live in a culture that has historically beaten, bought, and sold your people, and continues to devalue your precious lives. My mind simply cannot fathom a heritage of such oppression. But in this moment I lament with you. I grieve with you. And I am inspired by your resilience and audacious hope. May God be near to all of you as you grieve such a heavy loss. We hear your cries and we share your tears.
I am sure that I will make mistakes along the way. That’s the terrifying part for me personally. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I accidentally say something that is inadvertently racist despite my best intentions? I risk making those mistakes because I truly, deeply, want to be better. I want to be a white woman who fights to seek justice for those who have been oppressed, murdered, hurt by racism. I will risk the fear of being thought a fool, for the hope that I can be a part of the change.
So what do we do now? As for my house, we will commit to do better. To be better. We named our son “Ransom” which means -“the redemption of a prisoner, slave, or kidnapped person, of captured goods, etc., for a price.” We pray he will leverage his privilege toward the work of redemption to those who have been imprisoned by injustice. To seek freedom for those held captive by closed minds, and hardened hearts. God be near us all as we pick up the pieces and plot a new path forward. A path toward unity.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Bruno