I have been physically sick in the middle of all the turmoil in our nation the past couple of weeks. It’s a good thing. I needed to listen. I needed to be quiet. Honestly, I was too weak to do anything else. I did not need to share my ignorance. I do find that the early days after events that have been shaking us, tend to include a lot of apologies after foolish words have been spoken. Hopefully, this will be helpful to all.
I listened to an online conversation yesterday that I found helpful. (It’s about 45 minutes long.) It was a conversation between Brian Dixon and Jackie Brewton. Her mother “passed” and her father was much darker. She was the youngest of ten children. She grew up in SC in the 60’s and 70’s. Since her mom passed for white, she was privy to many conversations about black people by people who thought they were talking to a white person…until her kids walked in or her husband showed up. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so sad!
It sounds like her mother was a very godly woman who was unwilling to live a life of resentment, but talk about intentionality! She passed on to her children a desire to make things better in their community without having hatred boiling inside. GOD was good to them in spite of the poor actions of many white “christians” around them. Jackie is still a believer in Christ, if not always in white “christians.” (This is a 5 minute version of the conversation.)
I now have a clearer understanding of white privilege…and it isn’t an attack on me! It is just a statement of reality.
One reason for my post is this, she cleared up for me what white privilege means in the everyday. Not that I hadn’t heard the term before. I have. I have been to seminars that discussed it thoroughly. But her description of it was this: white privilege is when you are given the benefit of the doubt. In those seconds when an officer is making a decision whether to shoot or arrest, he often sees a white person and gives them the benefit of the doubt and gives them a second chance. If you are black, you often don’t get it. It happens in many other areas of life as well. Of course, we white people are not aware of what life is like on the other side of our “privilege.” We have never known anything else.
She gave a variety of illustrations from different circumstances, not just law enforcement. What it breaks down to is the value placed on the life of a black person. Their history in the US bears that out. There is plenty, in terms of institutionalized racism that has happened against them as a people, that our nation has to apologize for (way too easy of a word). She included some history to google, some of which I have heard about before. It is abysmal. It is a reminder that even though we personally may not have been involved in this behavior or these activities, our passivity and uninvolvement, even lack of desire to learn, provides a passive assent. We can still live blissfully unaware without having to change anything.
Until we are willing to look into this history and listen to the hurt and pain of real people who live in our communities, we are hiding our heads in the sand and ignoring a group of people in our culture. We are not loving them well.
Until we make the effort to look into that history, we are hiding our heads in the sand. Becoming aware of gross abuse of power over a group of people that has been repeatedly been done to them, generation after generation, is something we all need to repent of. It is something to grieve over because we have often passively allowed ourselves to keep our distance. We can all admit they were sinned against by our government repeatedly. Also by many of our evangelical churches, by many companies and banks, by many of us who were neighbors. The list goes on. There is nothing for us to defend. As a people, they were horribly sinned agains.
Were they the only ones? No, of course not. There are and have been many others. But for each time we allow injustice to reign in any part of our society, we vaccinate ourselves against it a little more. Slavery and the many ways the black culture has been treated in our nation over the years is just one of those places. As we hardened ourselves to each area of injustice represented there, we were able to look the other way at other places in our culture where injustice took place…against women, against the poor in general…against immigrants…and on and on we go down the line. That is the problem when we allow injustice to live among us and even to thrive.
Make some time to watch this conversation. You will find it to be very interesting and eye-opening.
Make some time to watch this video. It is very informative and helpful. I learned new things from it, yet she is not attacking white people. She is just informing us of information we have not made ourselves aware of. This is a good time to do it. She gives a few topics to google. Make the time. It’s not too late.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your strength
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10:27 ESV