The Blog I’m Unqualified to Write (but had to anyway)
No spoiler alerts needed for this one. It says it all in the title. This is a blog I am wholly unqualified to write. But as I was thinking about what I wanted to share with you all this week, this little voice kept nagging at me.
“Are you seriously going to push out a blog that doesn’t address the current conditions of our country?”
No. No I’m not.
So, while I recognize my woeful inadequacies to take on this topic, I’m going to attempt it anyway.
Friends, we have a problem. I have a problem. The solution begins by admitting this:
We can’t see what we can’t see.
While it isn’t a completely new conversation in my world, admittedly, the topic of racism isn’t one that I engage in on a regular basis. (I realize my privilege affords me that option.)
My friends of color and I talk about a lot of things. At times, the conversation has intentionally been about racism, but it usually hasn’t been the most common of topics between us. (Perhaps I’ve uncovered another problem?)
But this week, as I struggled for words, as I fought back tears and anger, I found myself compelled to awkwardly engage my brothers and sisters of color in conversation at a level that I’m embarrassed to say, has rarely happened between us.
I have treaded lightly, not wanting any of them to feel like educating me is their responsibility. And yet, the truth is I have questions. Lots of them. But rather than bombard them with the ramblings of my white mind while they are in the throes of grieving, I have mostly decided instead simply to check on them and let them know I am here.
To say words that hopefully don’t fall short: “I’m sorry for the deep heartbreak and even fear you are experiencing.”
I have let them know that, while I can’t pretend to fully understand their experience, that will not stop me from standing with and for them. I have asked them to call me out if/when they see me speaking or acting from a place of my privilege.
I have acknowledged to them that I realize I cannot see what I cannot see.
I have engaged other white people in conversations that at times has left me feeling hopeful, and other times, left me feeling heartbroken. The defensiveness from many of them has felt like a kick in the gut to me (imagine what it must feel like to a person of color).
Some of my relationships will never be the same as a result of some of those conversations. And while I grieve that, I also feel released in some ways.
I watched the memorial for George Floyd (say his name, please). I cried as I listened to tender stories from his brothers and cousin. I listened as leaders prayed and offered condolences. I ached for his children. They deserved better. George deserved better.
I have done the posting (and “not posting”) on social media. I am staying quiet (not silent) so I can listen. I understand that silence and ignorance make me complicit. In the most real ways possible, I am recognizing that if we’re not resisting the system that perpetrates corporate evil against others, then we are a part of it.
There is no neutral.
I have thought a lot about a verse in Scripture that says:
“What does the Lord require of you, except to carry out justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Notice what the verse does not say.
It doesn’t say “talk about justice." It doesn’t say “post on social media about justice.” Not that those things aren’t a part of it all.
But the Scripture is very clear. It says to carry out justice. And to love mercy. Because if you think about it, justice and mercy are deeply connected.
Justice must have hands and feet as well as words. This is how we show mercy to those in need of justice. This is how we create lasting and effective change.
For me, that means educating myself (and others), and putting my time and talents where my mouth is. I realize there’s a good chance I’m going to suck at it from time to time. But God sees my tries. And hopefully, my tries are significant enough that my brothers and sisters of color see them too. More importantly, it is my intention that they will experience them.
I’m willing to risk awkwardness in order to make sure things never go back to “the way they were” in my relationships with people of color, and in terms of how I see inequalities in this world. I’m going to risk the difficult conversations and risk the sacrifices required to make sure things are different, at least as far as I can make them different, from now on.
To my brothers and sisters of color, let me say, I see you. I hear you. I stand with you.
To my white sisters and brothers, here is my call to action. I would ask that you be willing to start with this:
“I can’t see what I can’t see. But I want to learn how to see it.”
Then, don’t stop there! Develop your lens through education. Start with books like:
So, You Want to Talk About Race? by Ijeoma Oluo
Be The Bridge by Latasha Morrison
The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby
White Fragility by Robin DeAngelo
Watch movies/documentaries like:
Just Mercy: https://www.justmercyfilm.com/
Donate to scholarship funds that champion people of color, like The George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Fund. https://www.northcentral.edu/george-floyd-scholarship-fund/
Find grassroots efforts in your area that are creating change and get involved. And if you can’t find them, start them.
Educate. Advocate. Donate.
Carry Out Justice.
When the world is better for our friends of color, the world is better for all of us. When we can show that Black Lives Matter, only then can we truly say that all lives will matter.