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:
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.