I Woke Up Like This

Image result for woman waking up happy

 

I went shopping this morning at a high-end department store.   And not once was I aware of my skin color.

When I’d shopped out my favorite stores, I met a friend for lunch at an upscale restaurant in the “good” part of downtown.  We laughed, ate hugely, and complained about our husbands. And not once was I conscious of the way I talked.

After our lunch, I attended a free lecture at the community college.  When I didn’t understand a concept, I asked a question.  And not once did I feel an obligation to “be a credit to my race.”

Later that evening, I got pulled over by a police officer.  As he slowly approached my car I felt myself blushing. Busted for not wearing my seatbelt – duh! – and every passing driver was witnessing my stupidity.  I felt embarrassed.

But not once did I feel scared, because I woke up like this:

White.

I am a white woman in America, and I have the luxury of forgetting that my ancestors did not come from around here.

I am a white woman of privilege and I have the luxury of forgetting that my manner of speaking gives me a free pass to my nation’s cultural, political and economic riches.

I am a white woman in a county with a predominantly white police force and I have the luxury of thinking every police officer who approaches me has my best interests in mind.

I had no idea I was so privileged.  I had no idea that when it comes to racism I had been part of the problem, because I was not part of the solution. That’s just messed up, but this is frightening: many white people think that racism is getting worse, all right – against white people!

The video below is a sample of that kind of thinking.

Racism against whites?  White ‘genocide?’  Claiming America as the motherland of whites, when even a biased history acknowledges that white Europeans stole it from Native Americans?

I’d laugh if the situation weren’t so tragic, and if the joke weren’t partly on me.  The fact of the matter is that I have been a white person of faith all my life, and I am only now learning to see the way racism permeates every aspect of life in my own country. Why?

Because I woke up like this, and because there is something wicked in my own culture that likes me better asleep.

But now I know.   I am awake now, and determined to join my voice to the cries of those who refuse to keep silent about the systemic evil that is racism – if they’ll have me.

Paul, a 1st century follower of Jesus who was faced with an equally bitter religious and ethnic conflict, said,

“For he [Christ] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Ephesians 2:14)

Jesus did his part.

The rest is up to us.

 

 

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6 thoughts on “I Woke Up Like This

  1. Kathy, Great post! Thanks for your unflinching willingness to own the advantages and privileges you (and I) were born into. You stand in righteous contrast to the women in the video, which, by the way, was so far from reality that I truly thought it was satire until it never came around to pointing out the absurdity of such ideas. This will be an uphill battle because as the women in the video demonstrate, people with power will go to great lengths to keep it.

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  2. Yeah, wasn’t that video just a real eye-opener? I had no idea that viewpoint was even out there, much less so widespread. For every gain, there is a backlash. It helps me to keep that in mind. I guess we’re making progress, judging from the purple prose.

    I’m attending my Conference’s meeting soon, and the topic will be racism. I’m hoping to gather more resources and glean more insights there.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  3. Comments: 10-17-2016

    To: https://allgodsbusiness.wordpress.com
    From: https://facilitatorsoflife.wordpress.com

    Dear Kathy Schuen,
    This is an amazing post and enriched my knowledge and consciousness in so many ways. Thank you for how you approached and for using didactical elements to share your concerns about it.

    With your post I started to go inside of my own spiritual and ideological tissues of prejudice against others. Your post is like a ticket to ride into our awareness about our biased in the racist-practices in our midst. I personally agree with you to make assessments about my conscious and unconsciously contributions for the perpetuation and legitimations of our collective-racist-consciousness, and, or the transformation of it in our midst; sure, no one is excluded of the responsibilities to share actions of transformations for dismissing exclusion, marginalization, and dehumanization of others based in skin-colors, neither based in any other type of prejudices.

    I still am working in my own ancestor’s biased to overcome my personal tendency of racism, and consciously be a facilitator of life sharing analysis, and feelings of grace and solidarity to liberate our human relations from the structural and systemic actions of racism present in political, economic and socially, which also still permeating the unconscious-collective tendency to perpetuate all ways of discriminations in our midst.

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  4. I’m so glad you found it helpful! I really don’t know too much about what is going on in anti-racism efforts, so I attended a workshop hosted by our conference. I learned so much! Ultimately though, the only experience I can write about authentically, is my own. So I had to tell the story of my own awakening, and subsequent realization that I, personally, have a long way to go.

    You are so right – liberating human relationships is a wonderful way to think about the work of restoration and reparation. It’s all about liberation. That makes it sound exciting instead of discouraging – which is how I felt before I read your post. So, you gave me hope – thank YOU!

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