Unintentional is not Excusable

I’m white.

I grew up in a white family… white  culture.

Most of my friends growing up and now are white.

My husband is white.

I went to and go to a predominately white church.

I am telling you all this so that you understand my perspective.  I am absolutely not racist, or so I thought.  I have come to realize, unfortunately, my gut instincts and reactions are.

This week I was driving around a neighborhood I’m not familiar with.  This isn’t all that out of the ordinary, as I’m still adjusting to a new city.  My husband was helping some friends move into their new house, and I had two screaming children in the back seat who wanted to go home… and so we drove around the neighborhood for 30 minutes.  While driving I thought about how impressive it was that these friends were moving into such a rough neighborhood.  A place I had been told was not a safe place to live with kids.  I did not see a white person during my drive.  But what I did see were families sitting on front porches and kids playing basketball at a community center.  Obviously SO DANGEROUS (please read that as sarcasm).

While circling the neighborhood I chatted with my friend to help pass the time.  We talked about everyday things, and then our conversation turned to the events of last week.  Many of our friends had posted on Facebook or other outlets to express their own thoughts, and she asked me if I felt the need to post something as well.  Here is (another instance) where my ignorance came into play.  I told her no, I didn’t think I had anything to say and didn’t want to post just for the sake of posting (which I think is still a good idea… if you don’t have anything to say, then don’t.)  I praised the posts of friends who are cops, in career ministry, and African American, feeling that their posts meant more because they are a part of the community the events have effected.  Clearly, as I am not in those groups, I am not really effected and therefore should stay quiet.  It’s not good to get involved with political matters anyway….

And then this week, God smacked me in the face.  This isn’t politics.  This is HUMANITY.  Everyone is responsible.  I’m not saying everyone needs to write a blog post or express their views on social media, but we are all responsible to help make a change.  God showed me how my gut instincts (rough neighborhood solely because of the skin color of those who live there?!) (it’s not my battle?!) create an “us” and “them” idea in my head that I didn’t really think existed.  It allowed me to view myself as better.  My gut instincts were racist, and even though I didn’t intend it… THAT’S NOT OKAY.  It’s inexcusable.  So my job now is to apologize for my stupidity, ask God to make a change in me, and get to work on helping to change our country.

So to apologize, I am sorry for ever believing that I was better than anyone else.  I am sorry for stereotyping.  I am sorry for excusing inaction with the thought that “this just isn’t my fight.”  I am sorry for ever thinking that the hashtag #alllivesmatter was an appropriate response to this horrible situation (this article from Relevant Magazine expresses so well why we need to stop using it.  Please go read it.)

As far as getting to work to help change, I have two little boys who will one day be white men.  I don’t want their gut reactions to be like mine were.  I want them to be able to celebrate differences and use their white, male privilege to advocate for the marginalized.  To not take advantage of, or ever for one moment believe they are entitled to feel superior to, anyone else.  I need to instill this in them.  I need to teach them and raise them in this way, and pray that God works in them to firmly plant this in their hearts.  (Another good article here about talking with our children)

And I need to get my own brain and heart in check.  I need to allow myself to be more understanding of the perspectives of others.  I need to begin to really love others, because that is all I am called by Christ to do: love others.

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

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