My Confession: I AM GUILTY!
in·dif·fer·ence– lack of interest, concern, or sympathy.
For far too long I have kept silent. I have not attempted to understand the perspective of POC and the impact that systemic racism has had on their lives. As a white man it has seemed so distant to me. Thoughts like, ‘this can’t be real’, or ‘this is not a widespread issue’ have helped me justify not examining my own heart, thinking, and ingrained prejudice. The idea that growing up in a white, middle class family in a rural mountain town wouldn’t in some way have shaped my views, felt intimidating to explore. I felt like learning about my prejudiced thinking would somehow make me less of a good person. I feared that by even accepting that some of the things I was taught in school were not entirely factual, and the fact that they had shaped me as a young man, I would also be coming face to face with the idea that I have been shaped to have internal, subconscious and conscious beliefs that are not godly and do not communicate love to his children.
George Floyd, I am sorry! I am heartbroken that this keeps happening in America. This is not a “cop issue”, this is not a “black issue”, this an AMERICAN issue. We cannot settle for this in America or anywhere. Hearing the hearts of my dear POC friends full of fear and pain, and then watching the news has infuriated me. Thoughts and prayers aren’t good enough anymore people. We MUST take action.
Never in my life have I been scared when I went on a run or walk through the park. I don’t need to train my kids on what to do with their hands if they are pulled over. Women don’t clutch their purse when I get in an elevator or lock their car door when I walk by. I don’t have to stress about raising a child that is black or brown in this broken society. My friends do though, and for that my heart is breaking. Where we go from here can feel daunting and uncertain, but this is a reality that our POC face every day. Here are somethings I am doing: I am committing to learn as much as I can about racism in America. I’m reading, listening, and asking tons of questions. I’m talking to my kids about racism and breaking cycles. I am teaching my kids to be allies, to protect their brothers and sisters, and to stand for true justice.
We cannot superzoom into the riots and protests and be enraged by the outcry. Is violence the answer? No, but desperation causes desperate actions. These are ways of asking these questions: Is anyone listening? Can anyone feel our pain? Sometimes when you aren’t being heard, you have to raise your voice. If your children were being gunned down for jogging, would you raise hell? Because you better believe I would.
What else can we do? Start educating our children on race in America, make friends with POC, diversify your social media and the material you are in taking, try to put ourselves in their shoes, get angry enough to take action. As a church let’s care as much about American POC as we do orphans and widows, let’s facilitate conversations, watch documentaries, and let’s educate our friends. Let’s be willing to do the uncomfortable work of untangling these deep, demonic beliefs that have facilitated racism and indifference for far too long. Let’s be willing to admit when we get it wrong, and that we can do better, WE CAN DO BETTER, and it needs to happen NOW! THIS IS AN EMERGENCY, OUR COUNTRY IS ON FIRE!
Robert Barber – Executive director YWAM LA