Reflecting on racism is a deeply vulnerable act. Confession is terrifying for the one who has wronged. Anguish is terrifying to the one who has been wounded. And yet, we cannot heal without one another.
I’m so honored, Kindra, that you invited my voice into this conversation. Thank you. I truly believe that this effort (and the replication of it all over the country even as we speak) IS a form of action. IS the foundation of how we will emerge from this tangled swamp of de-humanization our founding fathers failed to clear as they began to build this “Great American Experiment.”
Mark, you may feel overwhelmed by the scope of the work ahead of us and that might make you feel dis-empowered or insignificant, but writing IS a form of action. So are relationships. One of the great challenges of our countries evolution is that we are cornered and cloistered in enclaves that do not allow us to befriend our “others”. What is more, white folks are often so terrified of being accused of racism (and further, so terrified that we are, indeed, actually racist) we avoid places and people who can shed this light on the darkness in our souls.
You know the only thing worse than being accused of being a racist? Actually being one.
The strange irony is, the more we open ourselves to the possibility that we are racist, face it, move through it, the more likely we will actually be converted by the process. The more likely our path will become clear. The more likely that those who we have wronged will be able to forgive us and walk hand in hand in the hard work ahead.
A word on feeling stymied by systemic problems…Systems in and of themselves are not the problem. There are systems that serve and systems that enslave. We must support the former even as we dismantle or re-shape the latter.
What’s more, we ALL have a sphere of influence. We are all part of interwoven micro-systems of power, small though they may be. What are yours? Your job? Your family? Your neighborhood? Those are systems. And whatever BIG injustices manifest themselves in our BIG systems (educational, economic, political, judicial) they are replicated and reverberate in the small systems.
So maybe…don’t write to your congress(wo)man. Write to your neighbor of color. I bet they won’t send you back a form letter. And if you don’t have a neighbor/colleague/parishoner of color…maybe you need to begin asking how you might move into more diverse spaces where you can become hallowed friends with someone who might hold your hand as they call you a racist and pull you along as you both look around for a micro-system to reform that ought to serve folks better than it does doing right now.
We are partners in the process of revising, reforming, transforming, revolutionizing our systems so that they serve ALL not just SOME. We all have our wisdom and efforts to offer. And if we tell ourselves we have no agency to act because the systems are too big…then the “isms” win.
Thank you again for inviting me into your dialogue. I have faith (hope and love) that it will lead us to the Beloved Community.