Monday, January 16, 2017

I am a racist

It is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the USA today. I started it off with this little thought popping into my brain: "America: where 'I have a dream' has been replaced by 'I have a tweet.'" Whether you want to look at it from the perspective of a deep-thinking eloquent speaker like President Obama being replaced by Donny, or the overall state of our culture transpiring from meaningfulness to mindlessness... that's up to you.

At any rate, MLK Day has always been a meaningful and inspiring day for me. When I used to care more about stuff. It was ironic, then, as I was reading through David Fitch's new book 'Faithful Presence' that I stumbled on this paragraph just now:
A month after the Ferguson shooting, I was asked to speak at a conference on the subject of racial reconciliation. I am a white male, so I started out my talk with an open confession: "I am a racist." I confessed that even if I wanted to, I could not with the snap of my fingers undo the habits formed within me as a white man raised all my life in a culture of white privilege that is hundreds of years old. So, I said, "Today, I confess, I am a racist." This, I suggested, was the starting point for Jesus transforming the world around me divided by race. By submitting myself to others in this area of my life, especially people who are different from me, I could, through grace, learn the ways I am a racist. Then, piece by piece, God could change me. I have learned that the more I do this, even confessing this to myself, it fundamentally changes the posture between me and someone else of color.

That's some pretty good stuff, I think. In that regard, I am a racist too. I think what's difficult for so many white people - or maybe ALL people - is to separate confession from blame and judgment. By admitting (confessing) that I am racist does not mean I need to defend myself or accept blame for all manner of things and therefore be judged as "bad." It is to surrender my position, accepting that I am, in fact, part of a system responsible for this, yet with the hope that we might look forward, rather than look with condemnation on what may have happened in the past.

I have some more to add to this, but I may save it for another day, or forget it entirely. Basically I just wanted to write down this quote from Fitch's book, and note that I have started reading another book. I hope to write more about it also. It's good.