TO WHITE SUMPREMACISTS WHO REALLY WANT TO HONOR THE HERITAGE OF WHITE PEOPLE
It’s so sad that you seem to think diversity prevents you from protecting and enjoying your white heritage. Do you not see how even as whites become a minority in the US, we can embrace the rights and wisdom of other people as we stand even taller in our own?
Even if like me, you’re part Scottish and you absolutely LOVE bagpipes, which many people hate?
The price for living this richly in this fast-changing world is not huge. It begins with letting go of any illusion that you are special for any reason. That’s not easy, I know, and if you are like me and everyone else I know, the hope of specialness always rears its ugly head. Like now, when I am tempted to feel better than you because I don’t think or act like you.
Sorry about that. I am a work in progress and so are you. But I can truthfully testify that you’ll feel much better about yourself when you no longer distort your sight by seeing through any lens that says you are better than others.
That’s scary sometimes, vulnerable always. Getting past the illusion of specialness may take you to deep feelings of shame you’ve long tried to hide, but a good white lady from Texas, Brene Brown, has written books and made talks that can help you deal with that.
When I see you marching, I see lots of anger. It took me many years to learn how to deal with anger. Unlike you, my anger problem wasn’t rage towards others, but denying it and turning it into guilt or lack of boundaries. Fortunately, 46 years ago I found the human potential movement which taught me how to feel anger, discern its message, and use its energy for good.
I wish the same enlightenment and freedom for you. Plenty of people can help you unload safely. Then you can better enjoy some great accomplishments of white people.
Start with “Amazing Grace,” the most successful hymn ever. Written by a guy who repented his former life as a slave trader and became a minister. Read how it took him a long time to have the guts to follow the first calls to repentance with loving action, and imagine how much more joy and peace you will have when you can repent. That message is huge in the white heritage!
Sing “Amazing Grace” again, this time to embrace the miracle that admitting mistakes can also set you free. Then read the history of Post-it Notes, which came from Arthur Fry’s creativity and the 3M Company’s habit of talking openly about mistakes. Research how embracing failure is key to the creative process, and imagine what you could do with your life once you discover how to turn mistakes into a wakeup call to something better.
Maybe then you will be able to accept the fact that Hitler and the Confederates lost not just because their causes were unjust but because reality was against them. Reality says one Reb did not equal 20 Yankees on the battlefield, and that slavery and racism aren’t good for anyone.
This brings me to a final dream for you, one I think that has been long ignored in this country. It hurts to lose. The harder we fight, the bigger the loss, the more it hurts. The more the hurt, the more we need the balm of grieving.
Southern heritage did not prepare us to grieve well. Oh, we could be stoic, and we have all learned how to be nice and polite. But our heritage did not prepare us to admit loss openly, feel the anger and vulnerability, and be healed.
Without grieving and healing, we feed what the late Robert Maynard called the five “Fault Lines” of race, class, gender, generation and geography. Like geological fault lines that can erupt without warning at any time, social fault lines keep us constantly on shaky human ground.
Maynard wrote, “we try in vain to paper [the fault lines] over, fill them in or pretend they aren’t there. . . . [These] underlying forces, like those in the center of the earth, will thwart us until we come to see our differences as deep, but completely natural things, as natural as geologic fault lines. We don’t have to resolve our differences. We can agree to disagree.” (http://bit.ly/2vZ7dIy)
Earthquake technology teaches us that buildings can be made safer when 1) we build on solid ground, not atop fault lines; 2) we anchor bolt our buildings to their foundations, so they will not slide off under stress; and 3) we create lateral support to prevent the building from collapsing like a wall of dominoes.
Unlike geological faultlines, we can heal social faultlines. Earthquake technology provides guidance: Build our lives on the solid ground of reality and love, not illusion and hate. Anchor our actions into our core values so that we protect ourselves and our creations from the constant threats of pride, self-will and fear. Create relationships with people of our own and other heritages so we can ride out upheavals, not be harmed by them.
In reaching out to white supremacists, I ask you to accept what I say as an attempt to offer love and caring, however feeble it is. In the words of the third verse of the hymn, “Just As I am,” I now come to you just as I am, though tossed about, with many a torment, many a doubt.
But I come, first from my comfort zone as a writer. Each day I pray to become more courageous to reach out to relatives, classmates and others I know who applaud many of your sentiments. Recognizing how scary this is helps me have empathy for the task I see ahead of you.
Please, for the sake of all of us, break away from the voices around you that now keep you trapped, be they the voices of family, friends, church or media you trust. Go where you can listen to your own torments and doubts. Find help for grief and anger and whatever else is keeping you from your true destiny. Dare to be like the prodigal son, and return home to your true self.
As you do so, know that beyond the illusion of white supremacy is the wonderful truth that we don’t have to limit ourselves to the wisdom of our own heritage. Life is like a really good food court, not a melting pot where all unique contributions will be melted down or erased. Instead, life is a banquet where our own gifts are part of a feast of many great dishes.
We can also adapt our traditions and create new ones. Did you know Ethiopian collard greens are just as good as the ones my mama and grandmother cooked? Or that black eyed peas are scrumptious when cooked with Thai basil, lots of garlic and chicken broth, then tossed with walnuts and feta cheese?