Racism - do you ever consider if you're a racist? It pains me to hear that word hurled at individuals because it is such a bludgeon that closes down communication and reconciliation. However, coming to identify as a racist in my own life was a crucial and profound first step toward finding a way forward in relationship with my siblings of color and my own white guilt.
I remember the first anti-racism training I attended in college where I learned that the definition of racism is prejudice + power. Anyone can be prejudiced against another - for the color of their skin or any other reason. But when we mix that prejudice into the relationship soup that is our society and begin to use the implicit and explicit power in those relationships to enact and codify our prejudice - then we get racism.
What I learned then didn't really sink in until my third or fourth anti-racism training. In retrospect, I was grateful that these trainings were mandatory for whatever organization or group I was a part of. They gave me an opportunity I might not have sought on my own. Because who wants to examine their own prejudice? Who wants to honestly open the possibility that whether or not we have prejudice, we might be implicitly or explicitly participating in a system of prejudice? Or that we might be benefiting from the prejudice of others? It is a difficult thing.
I've come to a place where I can admit to myself and others that I benefit from a government, church, and society that prefers light skin to dark. I don't like it. It makes me angry, sad, helpless, and guilty. But I'm also choosing not to be idle in this way any longer. I'm trying to adopt a posture of listening, believing, and honoring people of color in our community. I'm trying to examine every choice and decision I make (or don't have to make) to see if I am aware of the privilege present and if there is anything I can do to change it.
Spaces like anti-racism training events are helping me. Each time I go back there is more language to learn. There is more testimony to hear. There are new truths to discover. And the more I learn the more equipped I feel to discover the new life that God is making in the midst of our racist reality. When I discover it - I can participate in it.
There is an opportunity for us all to attend a (free) anti-racism training in a safe space at Advent Lutheran Church in Morgan Hill. The training is a Saturday, February 3rd and is hosted by people that I trust and respect. I will not be able to attend because I'm out of town, but I hope to God that you will go. If you are white I hope that you will go to listen and learn. If you are a person of color I hope that you will go to lend your voice. If you have questions or concerns, I would be grateful to talk about them with you. If you want to register in advance you can do so by visiting the link below. But if you don't work up the courage to attend until the morning of the event, I hope you will still go for I believe you will find grace and hope there.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.