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What’s a Female Christian White American To Do About Racism?

Plenty, and it Starts with Taking Racism Seriously

The news has been dreadful for the past two weeks. (It’s been dreadful since the beginning of time, I know, but it’s finally overtaken our country’s consciousness in the last two weeks.).

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Our church had a time dedicated to prays this morning — anyone who was willing was encouraged to pray aloud. I heard people pray for people in our church, for the persecuted Christians in the Middle East, and for our country’s leaders in general…. But no one prayed for the racial/ethnic divide or the violence or the need for reconciliation and peace.

I prayed for Ferguson and all that situation represents, for the families and friends of John Crawford, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford… killed by police in what appears to be unjustified violence. I prayed for the police working hard to keep order peaceably (one of whom is a family member) and for the police who are failing to keep order peaceably.

But I didn’t pray aloud. I waited to see if anyone else would. I wanted to see how aware this group of people were. I excused myself by testing them.

I waited too long. The prayer time ended and immediately I regretted my choice.

I am trying to give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe many of them are aware. Maybe they, like me, were waiting to see if someone else would talk about it.

I’m disappointed that my church failed my test, but even as I think those words, I see it. I’m as guilty of silence as they are.

I knew I was supposed to pray out loud, I knew it as clearly as I know my name. I failed.

Brothers and sisters, I have sinned. Please forgive me.

I will speak up next time.

It’s time. Stop waiting. Speak up. Make people uncomfortable where necessary. Do the hard work of admitting our wrongs and working to make them right.

I want to do this. But I don’t know how.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the church we attend is very suburban, affluent, and white. Do we leave? Seek out a Latino or African American church? Learn Spanish? Do we cross the divide?

Would we be welcome or seen as invaders out to appropriate or whatever other buzzword is out there for whitewashing and Anglo-fication?

Or do we invite people of color to our church? Would you come? Would you stay? How do we make you feel welcome and at home?

Or do we pair up with a church made up of people of color and start doing things together, recognizing that some of us are more at home with certain things and others are more comfortable with other very different things?

How do we desegregate Sunday morning? How do we desegregate our churches?

I have found a few articles and posts that give some insight. I’m starting here. I encourage you read these articles. We need to find active answers to these questions and then we must stand up from our computers, walk out our front doors, and join together to make this right.

WhileYou Were Talking About Gungor, Driscoll, and Walsh

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles police shot yet another black man, Ezell Ford. Many white Christian bloggers and tweeters and Christian leaders (save Rachel Held Evans and a few others) still haven’t said a thing.

Meanwhile the news outlets are trying to figure out why the Ferguson police department looks more like a military. Journalists who tried to hold them accountable were arrested. And few members of the white evangelical twitterverse have said anything.

While the white Christian world debates who’s going to hell, the African-American community is already there, and nobody seems to give a damn.

Becoming a White Ally to Black People in the Aftermath of the Michael Brown Murder

Let’s talk about an active role for white people in the fight against racism because racism burdens all of us and is destroying our communities. And, quite frankly, because white people have a role in undoing racism because white people created and, for the most part, currently maintain (whether they want to or not) the racist system that benefits white people to the detriment of people of color. My white friends who’ve spoken out harshly against the murder of Michael Brown end with a similar refrain: What can I do that will matter in the fight against racism?

White people who are sick and tired of racism should work hard to become white allies.

What White People Can Do About the Killing of Black Men in America

I asked Rev. John Vaughn, Vice-President of Auburn Seminary, what kind of response he would like to see from white Americans. Rev. Vaughn responded via email that he hoped his white friends would be vocal and articulate why these killings are not ‘yet another isolated incident’ and ‘explore the premise that racism is not a thing of the past.’ Perhaps most importantly: “Listen to your friends and colleagues of color about their experiences and analysis of racism in America.”

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Comments

  1. Excellent

  2. Your comments speak to Martin Luther King’s point: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Thank you for your promise to act out loud next time. Onward for justice!

  3. I can relate to SO MUCH here, friend. It’s so hard to know when to speak, what to say, what do we do with all we have heard, where do we start?

    “Would we be welcome or seen as invaders out to appropriate or whatever other buzzword is out there for whitewashing and Anglo-fication?” This is one of my concerns, too. If I just start showing up in places with people of other ethnicities, won’t I be greeted with suspicion? Is that the chance I’ve got to be willing to take?

    I think many of us who want to bring shalom and healing who also happen to be white are just so unsure of where to start. Thank you for giving voice to this – and for those incredible links.

  4. So… I live in Bend, Oregon now… which is about as white as a place as I’ve ever been. I’m not even sure why this should bother me. In fact I’ve told my mom: “Look, I’m the only non-white person at this restaurant” just enough times for her to think I’m on the anti-racism-screaming-liberal bus. And it’s true, the number of non-white people in this town is about the same number who attend a massive country music concert (which I’ve also been to lately), which is to say… few to none.

    Why do I even notice this? Am I “better” because I notice it?

    To me, the under-population of non-white people in this town isn’t a cause for the racist or racism-inspired insensitivity (that I hear and see too often in 2014 — aren’t we LONG over judging people by the color of their skin?!). The cause, instead, is in a lack of awareness and experience interacting with other people groups and cultures and countries. If you live in a small town, perhaps just next door to where you grew up farming or shooting elk in the Fall, if you’ve never really visited outside the U.S. or had African-American friends growing up or befriended your Hispanic neighbors or coworkers… or, in the case of Bend, if you simply don’t have any Hispanic neighbors. Then why would you be more racially and culturally aware of the big frickin’ deal about racism? You probably wouldn’t.

    So I think I wouldn’t always call it racism… maybe more like racial ignorance, or cultural ignorance actually. Where, by the geographic cosmic lottery system of where you happen to find yourself living, either makes you more culturally aware or less. Bend, Oregon: Less.
    lindsey recently posted..In which I reality-check you hard (in my head)My Profile

  5. Speaking up without a message is futile and can be counter-productive. The contrast between the Bundy round up and the Michael Brown killing makes the racism hard to ignore. On one hand the protesting citizens and illegal actions are seen as patriotic. The stand-off in Utah was considered justified when citizens stand up to an oppressive government. The military like action of the police in Ferguson is seen as justified. Can anyone explain why the difference?

  6. I often wonder what a white male, favored by our culture, can do to undo racism. The article you cited, “Becoming a white ally…” was NOT helpful.
    While I agree that there are vast racial issues to which the white leadership (at most levels of our society), are responsible, and white people are largely complicit, this article does little to help. Using phrases like, “may he rest in power”, “it’s not a riot in Ferguson”, and, “he was a nice kid” incite further reaction to the problem.
    I do like the admonition for us white people to do more to understand, and to resist the status quo of the modern day racism.

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