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The following is a cross-post from Becky at Becky not Becky.

Our oldest child is one year away from Kindergarten.  That statement is probably not as surreal for you as it is for me, but there it is.  My son is a pre-schooler in the literal sense of the term.  And for my husband and me, that means it’s time to evaluate our education options.

I am a big believer in public education.  I went to public schools, as did my husband, and while we had different experiences, we were both served pretty well when it came to the basics.  Both of us had opportunities to explore our interests in and out of the classroom.  Both of us had encounters with loving adults (and some not-so-loving ones) who in one way or another helped to direct the course of our lives.  We support public education, and we are proud to say that next year, our boy will be beginning his formal education at a neighborhood elementary school.

But as happy as I am about our decision, I’m sad to say that it was a forced one.  You see, while friends of ours are looking intensely at three different but equally weighted options, we were ruling out homeschooling and private schooling as possibilities.  We’ve known since our kids were born they’d most likely be public-school bound.  And recently, I’ve become frustrated and jealous reading about the wonderful experiences of moms who homeschool.  I’ve felt scorn for those who send their kids off to Christian schools, where they will learn at the feet of teachers who profess and confess a love for Jesus Christ.  I’ve felt this way because I want those choices, too.  But the biggest source of aggravation is knowing that I can have them, and I don’t.

Several years ago, long before we had kids, my husband and I decided that whatever our own biological capabilities, we were going to pursue adoption at some point in our marriage.  We’d had friends who went through infertility and turned to adoption after failed attempts to build their family on their own.  We’d had friends who adopted internationally, transracially, and locally: some through fostering first, some with specificity that they wanted a certain kind of baby.   Given the wide range of experiences being open to adoption can bring, and given that any number of those options could make our lily white family less monochromatic, we began to evaluate our church, our community, and our lives for diversity.

We were found wanting.  We went to a white church.  I taught, for the most part, in a white school.  We had white friends.  If we were going to open our lives for an adopted child, we’d have to radically change the spectrum of influences and relationships we had in order for that child to feel at home and free to explore their own identity in a safe context.  But then, in reading more about race, racism and racial identity development, we discovered something we’d never considered.  What does all this homogeneity mean for our biological white children?

What experience were we giving them raising them in such an isolated context?  Thankfully, through very little work on our own part, the Lord moved us to an area where no matter where we chose to live, we’d be making a choice for diversity.  We visited churches and prayed about where to attend and in every case, we made racial diversity a factor.  Our current church is developing satellite campuses, and in the last few years, this has helped to broaden the membership beyond the occasional inter-racial couple, and our satellite is reaching out to communities of color and reflecting all these changes in staff hiring. I’m still not sure if these moves are intentional on the part of our church leadership (though we have one elder pushing hard for it), but God is moving our church in a direction that we feel is consistent with our family’s values.

So our white kids are living in a neighborhood where they are in the minority.  They are attending a church where their race is representative of the majority, but those proportions are swiftly tilting to reflect our community.  But now we have this school issue.

As I’ve looked into homeschooling, I’ve been discouraged by the numbers.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2009, 76.8% of homeschoolers were white.  Many proponents of homeschool say that their kids have plenty of social and athletic opportunities through homeschooling groups and leagues, but they never tell you that those opportunities are as segregated as the statistics show.  While I’ve been able to find some blogs or groups of parents of color homeschooling their children, these are vastly outnumbered by the white mommy blogs on the subject.  And, honestly, I’m equally disappointed looking at curriculum options.  The traditional religious curricula I’ve seen are as problematic, if not more so than, the generally monochromatic public school curricula for literature, history, and the social sciences.

Private Christian schooling is also disappointing.  I know from experience as a teacher in a Christian school that often the curriculum ignores race, and omits important authors of color or literature from anything other than a white-male canon. History can be anyone’s best guess, and in a conservative evangelical school, can be filled with reverence for the Founders and ignorance of the oppression of and contributions by Native Americans, African Americans, or immigrants.

Last year at MOPS, we had a panel of professional women each representing public, private Christian and homeschooling options.  During the discussion on private schooling, one white mom stood up and shared that her husband was black and her child was biracial.  She was concerned that in a Christian school, her child would be the only person of color in the class, perhaps in the grade.  The white teacher on the panel said she had the same concerns for the exact same reason: her son was biracial.  She said the lack of diversity was the only thing that gave her pause about enrolling her son in the school where she taught.  She added that her son participated in county sports, not school athletics, in order to feel connected to different types of kids and families and that her family was constantly looking for ways to offset his school experience.

I felt for both those moms.  And I wondered why the other moms of white kids weren’t likewise concerned.  I’ve thought about the idea of “offsetting” a whites-only education with other experiences, but all of it feels like compromising an important value for our family.  I don’t want my kids to grow up without a teacher who is a person of color.  I don’t want my kids only having sleepovers, birthday parties or field trips with an all-white class (even if that class consists of me and their siblings).

So, we’re left with public school.  And we’re glad to have it.  Our local elementary school is only 29% white.  The majority of the school is Latino, then black, then white, then Asian.  It’s a good school and the teachers work toward cultural and linguistic competency so that they can best serve students and their families.   Also, the principal is a woman of color.

I know my lament is one of privilege.  I could easily choose to homeschool or send our son to private school.  We have the means and the opportunity.  But for us, the choice is not easy.  It’s hard because our values on this tell us those doors are shut by the same forces that kept schools segregated in the past: a compulsion to commit to the status quo and the ability of white people, in particular, to be completely comfortable and at-home only in contexts where they are in the majority.

If any anti-racist out there has found a way to make homeschooling or Christian-schooling work for their kids, I’d love to be wrong about this.  Until then, I’m a little frightened that I’m right and that it’s our organized Christian culture that’s wrong.

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A couple weeks ago, African American boxer Floyd Mayweather posted a video rant full of ignorant, racist stereotypes against Manny Pacquiao, a Filipino boxer.  Mayweather posted a fake apology (“I don’t have a racist bone in my body”) in response to criticism of these comments, along with another video intended to show his, ahem, “acceptance” of Asian people which is, unsurprisingly, full of even more racist nonsense (Racialicious).

Mayweather’s comments have been largely overlooked by mainstream news outlets, and the response even from anti-racist organizations has been tepid.  Last week an Asian American friend of mine shared a column by ESPN’s Floyd Granderson, who is African American, questioning why there has been so little outcry over this, and specifically calling out the NAACP, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson for what he calls their “muted response,” suggesting that they are judging Mayweather ‘by the color of his skin” rather than by the content of his comments.

The truth is Mayweather’s being given a pass because he’s black . . . . he is being treated differently because he’s black.

Period.

And if he were being treated honestly, black man or not, we would be hearing denunciations from Jackson, Sharpton and the NAACP . . . I’m not playing devil’s advocate; I’m advocating for equality — but in the true sense of the word. Whites don’t hold the patent on being racially insensitive, just as blacks are not the only group of people to be discriminated against in this country . . . .

If we truly believe in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” then it is only fair that the boxing world punish Mayweather. I understand he’s the industry’s cash cow. But this kind of hypocrisy only fertilizes racial tension while simultaneously lining the pockets of people who make their living manipulating that tension [I’m not clear on who Granderson is talking about here. Does he mean Jackson and Sharpton?  If so, FAIL.].

My reaction to Granderson’s argument was that it’s hugely problematic in a number of ways, not least because it’s an argument from total silence.  And I found it unfortunate that Granderson chose Mayweather’s blackness as the angle for his article rather than the reality that anti-Asian bigotry is still widely accepted as “humor” in our society.  It’s seriously problematic to argue that black leaders or the NAACP are required to comment on the situation just because Mayweather is black.

I left a comment to this effect on my friend’s post sharing this article; this started a discussion about the article and the degree to which the NAACP, etc., are obligated to comment on a situation like this.  In my opinion, the way Granderson made his argument was racist, and actually detrimental to anti-racist work.  My friend, on the other hand, saw the article as holding anti-racist activists accountable to do a better job, and thought Granderson was identifying a potential blind spot in the NAACP, Jackson, and Sharpton.

I emailed Nikki to get her thoughts on the situation and ask if my reaction to the article was off-base.  We ended up having a really productive discussion about anti-Asian racism and what it means for anti-racist activists to be good allies to Asian-Americans.  Parts of our conversation are posted below the jump, edited and cleaned up to make it easier to follow dialogue. (more…)

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The following is a re-blog from Claudia over at My fascinating life.  Claudia is an Aussie mom living in the UK who adopted Ethopian children.   She’s testament to the fact that if you provide us with insightful commentary on our posts, we might go over to your blog and find things we’d like to bring home with us.

I’ve made a decision – the next person to ask me whether I need to put suncream on the babies is getting a punch in the mouth. I’m not quite sure why this is every white person’s ‘go-to’ question about raising black children, but that seems to be the case. Like if they suddenly found themselves in my shoes, it wouldn’t matter if the child grew up totally unsure about their identity, where to fit in, lacking any positive black role models and looking down the barrel of casual racism every day; that would be fine, but heaven forfend the baby should get sunburned.

I know I’m overreacting about that particular question, and if anybody I know in real life is reading this then they are definitely going to be offended, because I’m pretty sure that every single white person I know has asked me this question since the sun came out here, about two weeks ago. And I do take sun safety very seriously. And on one level, it’s fine that people ask me this. It’s sunny, we’re at the park, they’re slapping the suncream on their kids, it’s a reasonable question. And I prefer curiosity to someone saying ‘oh, seriously, your child isn’t white? I didn’t notice! Because we’re all the same on the inside!’ But sometimes, this question, and others like it, (‘what do you do with their hair?‘) can make me feel really uncomfortable, and I don’t quite know what to do.

I think I’ve almost figured out how to deal with conversations that are openly racist, or, more commonly, just plain ignorant. No matter who, no matter where, don’t let it slide, ever. Challenge. Disagree. Not just when it’s a conversation about people who share the same colour skin as my children, but anything racist, all the time. Zero tolerance. There’s a lot of stuff that I used to let slip by me, but now – no way. I’m acutely aware that many adult adoptees say their parents weren’t active enough as their anti-racist advocates, particularly with extended family, and those of us who have had the opportunity to learn from their experience have NO excuse if the same is said about us.

But I find this kind of thing much harder. It’s not a racist question. It’s not even a particularly stupid question. But it makes me prickle. I think that what upsets me is this. I get the distinct impression that some of my white friends ask me questions about my black babies that they would never ask if I was a black mother. Or at least, ask them in a way that they wouldn’t ask a black mother. This is difficult to articulate, but I feel like there is an unspoken assumption that we belong to the same club, they and I, a club to which my children do not belong. And that our sameness means that it’s okay – indeed, expected – for us to share information and experiences about our encounters with those who are not the same. Even, in my case, if those who aren’t the same are also my children. We all know that the first rule of White Club is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT WHITE CLUB, so none of this would ever be said out loud. But honestly, in some conversations it is palpable.

It feels similar to what I experienced when I moved to the UK from Australia. When I came across other Australians, we would always form a huddle and complain about the same things – usually the price of food, how cold it was, how long it was since we’d seen the sun and the impossibility of really getting to know anyone properly. Then we would tell stories about Rude English People I Have Met, and What They Said To Me. It was comforting. But time went on, and something changed. I began to feel at home here. I worked out how to navigate the supermarket, bought a decent coat, resigned myself to a lifetime of Seasonal Affective Disorder and made some friends. My accent was Australian (and it still is) but I didn’t feel quite so partisan anymore. I began to feel that at least part of me was becoming British. And then the moaning sessions weren’t quite so welcome. When people would hear my voice, and then want to talk about what was wrong with the UK, I kept finding myself thinking ‘what makes you think I’m on YOUR side in this conversation?’

And that’s how I keep feeling now. White people see my skin, and I think it makes them think that I’m on their side. I’m not going to go down the ‘now that I have Ethiopian children, I consider myself to be Ethiopian too’, road, because I think that’s a pile of horse manure. I’m still white, I’ll always be white, and there’s nothing I can do about that. But that doesn’t mean I’m on their side.

It does feel, sometimes, like people view my children as educational toys. They’re a safe, easy way to learn about black people. You know, without actually having to talk to a black person. And I get frustrated, because my children are not a bridge. They do not have a responsibility to my friends to link all the colours of the world into a complacent little circle. And they are not objects; curiosities to be examined. They are their own selves, with their own complicated histories, and neither they nor I owe my friends any information about their skincare regime. I think that sometimes people are wanting some kind of inside scoop – for me to go into detail about how hard it is to care for such ‘difficult’ hair or skin, but it’s just not going to happen. They aren’t entitled to that information, even if it was the case. I am not on their side.

But sometimes it’s a hard balance. Because sometimes I ask myself – are these the opportunities I’ve been waiting for? Is the problem not too many questions about their skin, but too few? I think most of us can agree that a fake-o ‘colourblind’ approach to life doesn’t do our children any favours. And I wish that I could have more frank discussions with my white friends about race, not fewer. But I want them to be real. Surely the really important issues around skin are privilege and prejudice, not, well, skin. I want to talk about how we approach our own whiteness, before talking about anybody else’s blackness. I don’t really know how those conversations would sound, but I’m sure they wouldn’t just be about sun safety or hair products. I hate that I am still so bad at making those conversations happen.

So, back to the sun cream. Mostly, when sun cream comes up, I say ‘Well! The babies take longer to burn than a very pale baby, but they will still burn. I do put sun cream on them, but we don’t need it if they’re only going to be outside for a little while. We have suncream that smells like coconut. Doesn’t their skin smell delicious? What type of suncream do YOU use?’ And questions about hair get ‘isn’t their hair BEAUTIFUL? I just can’t wait until her hair is long enough to braid. Do you think your little Susie’s hair is going to stay blonde?’ And none of this is going to set the world on fire, and sometimes I wish I could have the courage to be a lot ruder, but for now, for questions that aren’t outright impolite, I’ve decided to stick with simple answers that affirm my children and then move swiftly on.

All of this feels almost impossible to write about, because I’m so painfully aware of how little I know. And maybe my approach is wrong – maybe I’m reading too much into comments that are totally innocent, or maybe the reverse is happening and I’m ignoring something really big, and I should be… well, I don’t know. And of course some of my friends don’t do anything like this, and I need to remember that I never used to care about race until I realised that it was going to affect my family. So I’d better not climb too high onto my high horse, or I’m liable to fall off. This is all really hard. I know I’m making mistakes. I hope I’ll be willing to learn from them. But whatever happens, I hope the babies always know that I am on their side.

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A week or two ago, I had what we Southerners call a “hissy fit.”  I had been watching the news on several networks and read many different outlets all reporting on how Glenn Beck and his flock were descending upon the Capitol in droves.  A friend sent me a video of interviews with folks who came to D.C. to “call the nation back to God.”  Most faces I saw in the crowd were white.  Every interview I saw or read was with a white person.  Many of them were decrying the political agenda of our sitting President.  Some of them were calling him a racist and saying it was time to take “our” country back.

In my fit, I sat down on several occasions to write a blog post about this phenomenon.  I considered it from many angles.  I started writing about how I’m not one of those white people.  I started writing that those people don’t really get what my God is all about.  I started writing about the Pharisees and the Sadducees and thinking up all kinds of Bible verses that I would hurl back in an effort to halt the parade of hatred and ignorance on TV that whole weekend.  I started to write any number of those things and then deleted it, choking on my own anger about it all.

Then one day, last week in the car as I was fuming about everything I’d seen, with no one to call and vent, one of my favorite musicians, a contemporary Christian music artist named Sara Groves, intervened right there in the middle of my minivan.  She sang:

Redemption comes in strange place, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are
I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story

I want to shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

And that’s where I decided to write this post.  You see, I could write those other things—about how white people suck; how, collectively, we don’t get “it”;  how as much as I want to not be one of them, sometimes, I am them.  I know that story and many of our readers here at the blog know that story.  It’s familiar and it usually ends badly.

But I want to “add to the beauty,” not just recount the ugly.  So how does one “tell a better story”?  Well, while I believe in the power of shining a spotlight on horrible things, it can’t be all we do.  I believe we’re right to curse the darkness; but, sometimes we get so used to seeing in the dark, we need to adjust our vision.  Rather than focusing on a very vocal and seemingly prominent group of haters, I need to remember that great cloud of witnesses—past and present—who can encourage me forward and who tell me to not lose heart in fighting against racism as a white person.  I need to look at those success stories of white people who turned things around or made some small difference.

I need a redemption story.

I need a story like that of William Wilberforce—who took on a nation of generational slaveholders using his position of power and privilege as a white man to end the British slave trade.  I need a story like that of Lucretia Mott, a Quaker minister, abolitionist and feminist.  I need to read about Father Bartolomé de las Casas—who Kate featured in a Columbus Day post—a man who got it wrong in many ways but came to oppose the torture committed against Native people during colonial conquest.  I need to meditate on the life of Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who was interned for aiding Jews in escaping Nazi persecution during the Holocaust.  I need to know about and remember the sacrifices made by Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwarner, two Jewish men martyred in Mississippi for helping to register black voters during Freedom Summer.

I need to hear from teachers like Peggy McIntosh and Tim Wise who make our privilege visible and call us to a better white identity.

I need to get my hands on and my head around stories like those of Chris Rice and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove—men who forsook their own privilege and the comfort of a homogeneous faith community to live out integration in the all-too-rare situation where white people act as integrators.  Both men explore how their faith in Christ informed and guided their decisions toward anti-racist activism and communal living in their autobiographies: Rice’s story focused on his life as a young man living in the 1980s and Wilson-Hartgrove’s is a more contemporary example from the last 10 years.

Rice’s story is particularly compelling for anti-racist Christian novices as it is almost a primer on the efforts and leaders of the evangelical-side of movement since the days of the Civil Rights era.  Rice describes how he and Spenser Perkins formed a hard-fought friendship and took up the second-generation mantle handed them by John Perkins.  He also shares with painful honesty his struggles to come to terms with his own sense of privilege, entitlement and authority in the midst of a strong black community.  Wilson-Hartgrove is an affirming example of what those of us just now getting involved in anti-racist work can do and how far we can come if we let God transform our thinking and our lifestyles to make us agents of reconciliation.

That day in the car, as the CD moved on, I was still stuck thinking about what Sara Groves had said.  I thought about Glenn Beck and those like him who enjoy derision and division.  I kept coming back to my anger over these things even while I had decided that I want to tell a better story with my life.  Groves had an answer for that, too.  In her song, Kingdom Comes she says:

When anger fills your heart
When in your pain and hurt
You find the strength to stop
You bless instead of curse

When doubting floods your soul
Though all things feel unjust
You open up your heart
You find a way to trust…

When fear engulfs your mind
Says you protect your own
You still extend your hand
You open up your home

When sorrow fills your life
When in your grief and pain
You choose again to rise
You choose to bless the name…

In the mundane tasks of living
In the pouring out and giving
In the waking up and trying
In the laying down and dying

That’s a little stone that’s a little mortar
That’s a little seed that’s a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom’s coming

None of this is easy, friends.  I haven’t been at all this anti-racist stuff for long, but I’ve been at it long enough to know some things get easier, but that’s when God sometimes presses in to challenge us and call us to do even harder things.  In those moments, if all I can offer is a little obedience, sweat and mortar, I’m doing my job.  I’ll remember our white anti-racist heroes, like my white friend Ashleigh, who has in the last year, been awakened to anti-racism and is cultivating a deep passion for justice and reconciliation in her own life.

I’m hoping that over time, I’ll be able to look on angry scenes like the one I saw on the news the other week and say as Christ did from the cross, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.”  Until that day comes, I pray that when I look upon the horror stories our world has to offer, that even as I rail against them, I’ll be mindful that all of it is only the prelude to a better story: a kingdom coming.

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We talk a lot around here about the dangers of colorblindness. Well, once again, social scientists have proven us and a bunch of other anti-racists right. Go us!

But seriously, recently Brendesha Tynes, professor of educational psychology and of African American studies at the University of Illinois, conducted a study that found that white students and those who claim color-blindness as their racial attitudes were more likely not to be offended by images from racially-themed parties where attendees dressed and acted as caricatures of racial stereotypes.

According to the U of I News Bureau, Tynes recommends based on her findings, “that mandatory courses on issues of racism and multicultural competence are necessary for students from elementary school through college.

Specifically, beginning in elementary school, texts should provide a more comprehensive view of American history and culture, not just focus primarily on whites.”

She adds:

Simply telling people to celebrate diversity or multiculturalism or saying, generically, that we believe in tolerance isn’t sufficient. We need to teach people about structural racism, about the ways that race still shapes people’s life chances and how the media informs our attitudes toward race.

Much of “colorblindness” comes from the laziness that privilege inspires. I don’t learn about or alter my lifestyle for those people because 1) as a white person, I don’t have to in order to move successfully through society and/or 2) they should just assimilate to our culture if they want to succeed.

But another part of “colorblindness” comes from fear. Fear of offending someone. Fear of getting it wrong. Fear that if we recognize the differences between us, that the recognition itself makes us complicit in oppression. 

In our ignorance and prejudice, because we think the words “white,”  “black,” or “latino” are negative labels that carry certain meanings (or at least they carry negative associations in our own minds), we won’t even name them.  But the labels themselves aren’t the problem.  It’s the thinking behind the labels that points to the real problem.  It’s like how “Puerto Rican” is a pejroative term for Jack Donaghy:

Being “colorblind” is our attempt to reset the clock on history and call everything from this point on “even” or “fair” so that we don’t have to do the complicated and personally risky work of reparation, restoration and reconciliation. 

While I think that having relationships with people are different from us is the most transforming experience we can have in our move toward anti-racism, I do think Tynes is right about formal education on the subject. Anti-racist education has to be a life-long effort if we are going to aggressively combat the systemic injustices that still exist in our society.

Developing relationships outside our own race is paramount. Having friends or family of a different race allows us to heal the myopia that prevents us from seeing the teeming and entrenched prejudice in our culture and in our own lives. But many of us will never move to a place where we form those relationships without a little kick in the pants. Formal education can provide that. It can open doors and allow people different from us to come in without feeling like they have to explain themselves to us. Moving beyond colorblindness can eradicate the fear that our ignorance on these issues will keep these new relationships from ever working out.

God is moving His Church toward kinship, not merely co-existence. We have to be committed to fully seeing one another and learning to love what we see, if that good work is ever to be accomplished in us.

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Today I read an incredible guest post over at Macon D’s Stuff White People Do that almost killed me.

The author, a blogger named IzumiBayani, describes himself as “100% Japanese, 100% white, 25% deaf, oppressor and oppressed,”  and in his post, he works around a theme that attempts to understand, instruct and encourage white men who want to participate in the work of social justice.

Because we talk a lot on this blog about struggles against institutional white privilege, some visitors may have come away feeling that we are anti-white people or anti-white men, in particular. I am not anti-white people.  I am a white person.  And I am definitely not anti-white men.  I am the daughter of a white man.  I am married to a white man.  I am raising a white man.

Recently, a friend who is serving a year as a missionary in Chicago told me about her initiation through that program into the world of racial justice.  One of the first books she read (a book we highly recommend here at ID), was Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? My friend told me that in her mission house, one person struggled most with the implications and the expectations the book raises.  That conflicted missionary was the only white man in the house.  He felt what many of us feel, guilt, hopelessness in the face of injustice, fear of stepping out into a community filled with people of color who, because of his race and gender, might dismiss him as being “like the others.”

In my last post on the debacle over a “Black History Month” menu, I confessed that my husband and I had been having long discussions about the situation.  Many times I am challenged by his experience as a white man to explain my opinions on these subjects in such a way that he can access my ideas and appreciate where I’m coming from.  I often get angry with him and wish he would be as passionate or as convinced as I am about certain things.  And in those moments, I forget how much work he puts into trying to figure all of this out.  I forget the obstacles that unearned and unsought privilege places in front of him as he seeks to engage in these things.  I forget to show grace and patience to someone who is willing to support me and join me in this work.

We’ve talked on the blog before about how we white folks need to be patient and understanding when people of color distrust our efforts.  For me that’s often a no-brainer.  I can see the need for that more clearly.  It’s harder for me to see what privilege does to the privileged because I am one of them.  The injuries racism inflicts on people of color is visible to me.  What’s often invisible is the injury done to me, my husband, my kids in how racism shapes our attitudes, our lifestyles, and our capacity to love and serve all people (including each other).

White men who participate in racial justice are willing to go through repeated initiation, to be inspected and suspected even when they have pure motives.  They are willing to walk in situations where everything society has imprinted upon them tells them they should feel threatened.  In small, microcosmic ways, they are taking up a cross of vulnerability and rejection that people of color have borne for centuries in the larger context of American society.  As IzumiBayani says of his white friend, Ecrib:

I don’t tell Ecrib this often enough, but he needs to stay humble. No one is asking him to lead us out to the promise land. In fact, he can’t be a dominant leader in a social justice movement because of his identity. This space is for PoC and to some extent WW. He can support, but he can’t lead. That invokes the White Savior Complex. White male arrogance can easily ruin his credibility and get him thrown off the boat.

It’s hard for white guys.  And some of them don’t deserve it.  But that’s how racial injustice works.

IzumiBayani asks this at the end of his post:

what can we as PoC’s and women do to balance staying safe and giving dominant identities a chance?

I’d invite you to post your responses to this question here AND at the original blog.  My answer is to love them and let them come.  To allow them to get it wrong from time to time and correct the well-intentioned with truth and gentleness.  To give them a place to be angry about what this system has done to them by making them oppressors by default.  To encourage them to go out and reach the very audiences that they can influence because of their privilege.

My missionary friend told me that the other man in the house, a man of color, kept repeating to his grieved white friend, “YOU are not racism.”  I love that.  I’d add to my own white men, “but in Christ, like all things, you can OVERCOME it.”

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