Here’s what I know for sure:
- Black lives matter, and that doesn’t mean anyone else’s life matters less.
- We are all image-bearers of God. Our diversity is intentional. It is holy.
- Love, Justice, and Truth are not just godly values but God’s identity.
- Jesus charged us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
- “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
I also know that my silence on matters of horror and grief and rage over the years have implicated me by omission. That I am not the only one I imprison with my desire to be “good” when I let fear of backlash override God’s desire for justice and succor for his hurting children. That I’m counted as no one’s ally until what’s in my heart moves me to speak and do and be it.
And although White-woman-wokeness is trendy right now and I hate bandwagons, I can no longer balk at the fear of imperfection and conflict that has positioned me against people I love by default.
Because I do feel fear when I encounter a Black person. And it doesn’t matter that what I’m afraid of is offending them by inadvertently appropriating or exoticizing or tokenizing—all they see is fear. Another White woman afraid of a Black person. And unless I’m brave against my own self, unless I speak up about what is lovely, right, and good and what needs defending, then I’m part of the sidewalk-level problem.
And that has to stop.
As a newish Christian, I’ve struggled with where to put my feet in the mire of racism (or any –ism, for that matter). But God is pretty freaking clear:
- “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24)
- But if you show partiality, you are committing sin. (James 2:9)
- “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” (Mat 7:12)
- Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. (1 John 2:9)
- Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil 2:3-4)
- If anyone sees a fellow believer in need and has the means to help him, yet shows no pity and closes his heart against him, how is it even possible that God’s love lives in him? Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about, but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds. (1 John 3:17-18 TPT)
And that’s just for starters.
Daily pain, stress, and exhaustion from feeling unsafe, less-than, or othered is not in God’s design for humanity. We’ve all gotten a taste of that life during this pandemic, I think, and it’s (hopefully) making white people more aware of the burden POC bear even on their best days.
It is privilege to not feel it.
And that means it’s my job as a White Jesus-follower to use the freedom afforded me by that privilege to help others get free.
I must learn to love beyond myself and my comfort zone, to sit down and listen with humility and respect to stories not like mine, to seek justice and truth, to honor and connect with souls not skins but to also embrace and celebrate what makes us different because that variety forms the full picture of God in a way one race or culture alone never can.
To use my power for good.
That said, sentiment won’t save anyone.
So here’s what I’m going to do.
- Diversify my feeds, shelves, screens (suggestions welcome)
- Educate myself about experiences and stats/context (suggestions welcome)
- Support programs that help POC in my city (suggestions welcome)
- Boost POC voices even when race talk isn’t in vogue
- Be a better friend to those already in my life
- Freely give compliments, smile bigger, chat longer
- Talk to my daughter about how no one in the Bible is White
- Talk to her about how use her advantages to help others
- Pray, pray, pray for revelation and change
- Be okay with being corrected as I learn and make mistakes
Let’s be honest, though: No matter my good intentions and heartfelt determination to do better now, when the furor has died down and we’re all posting about food and making jokes again, I’ll lose a lot of the passion I feel now. Not that it isn’t real, that I’m not serious about change; it just isn’t my daily reality, my daily fight. And so I get the privilege of forgetting. Of letting other concerns rise to the top and obfuscate what is still happening to other image-bearers.
But something tectonic has shifted in me, and it’s revealed a burning need to be brave. No longer will I allow fear of conflict or judgment or not being “good” in the eyes of others keep me from standing on and sharing the love, truth, justice, and mercy of God and His Kingdom—whatever the arena. I must learn to speak the truth in love.
It’s not going to be perfect because I’m not perfect.
But it’s a start.
Writer’s note: This article is admittedly not super helpful to the overall conversation right now. It’s still centered on me, my voice, my intentions, my experience. But its function is to break the seal of my silence. Sharing others’ posts to social media is fine, but part of having power and freedom as a White person is that I have to, you know, use it. Taking this step out signals my soul that it’s go time. I may not be a prolific activist after this, but I will not be the same. Because the next time I’m afraid to speak up on behalf of the hurting for fear of being shouted down, I’ll have this to remind me.
This article is also for anyone out there like me, White and Christian and wanting to say something but not sure if it’s okay. It’s okay. You’re going to do it wrong. But if we were perfect, we’d be Jesus, so let’s not go on being silent and pretending we can still be good. Lift up those weary from lifting themselves. The Lord is with you and He cannot fail.