What is happening in the United States right now, and around the world, is a wake up call and a time to lament.
Yesterday I was on FaceTime with my oldest daughter Rebecca as she got her baby Alex out of his crib from a nap. He snuggled into her, and she was laughing about how he was such a cuddly boy–how he is learning to crawl, and he crawls so fast to her so he can be picked up.
We were made for connection. That is a basic human need. We are made to be relational, to be part of a community.
And most of all, we are, all of us, made in the image of God.
This last week has been a wake up call to me, and to much of the world, that many do not experience that “being part of a community”, and connectedness.
Too many are treated as “the other.” And let’s not sugarcoat it. It is because of white supremacy.
And in the U.S., African Americans are heartbroken and are crying out to be heard.
Right now, it’s time for us to listen.
I don’t have anything to teach today, because I am on this journey, too. I want to learn. I want to listen. I have always thought of myself as someone who is not racist, but watching the video of Amy Cooper last week reminded me that we all are racist in some way. We all have our blind spots. And it is time for all of us to be humble and to confront them, as George Floyd’s death so brutally reminded us.
And it is time for those of us who are privileged to listen to those who have been the recipients of that racism. I read this on Facebook from Will Odom, a friend of mine, and it resonated:
The phrase “White Privilege” is being thrown about quite a bit lately. I will admit that when I first heard this term a few years ago, I didn’t fully understand what it meant. To be honest, it offended me. I presumed a lot without trying to educate myself. White people are particularly bothered by this term, and it seems to make them uncomfortable. So…Part of the problem is the way that many are defining white privilege. It is not saying that someone’s life wasn’t hard or that someone else’s life was easy. It’s not saying that someone’s life didn’t have challenges. It doesn’t mean everything was handed to someone on a silver platter. It means that the color of your skin was not an obstacle that you had to overcome. For example, I can jog and walk into a new construction house without fear of being hunted down and shot. It doesn’t mean I didn’t struggle or have problems. It means that my problems were not complicated by the color of my skin. Which for many people, that is not the case. Use the word ‘advantage” if that helps.
Canada doesn’t have the same racial history as the United States, though we have our fill of shame. Whether it’s the Africville cruelty in Nova Scotia, or the treatment of Chinese immigrants in the early 1900s, or the internment of the Japanese in World War II. But most especially for us, it’s the treatment of Native Canadians. My husband has been doing clinics up in a native community in Northern Ontario, and he goes to listen and learn. That should be our posture.
There is so much weeping right now, and that is appropriate. It is time to lament.
It is time for those of us who are not victims of racism to look honestly at our history and ask ourselves two questions:
- What has the history of my country, church, or province/state been like for someone of a different race?
- How am I myself blind to the prejudice around me today?
I don’t have any words of wisdom for this. I think we should listen to other teachers on this topic–African American, Native Canadian, and others. But I encourage us to listen, and to lament. And I wanted to take a day off of the regular content of the blog and just say that I am praying with my American readers. I am praying for America today. And I am praying that we will listen to the voices that have been crying out to be heard–truly listen, and enter into their pain, for we are all connected. And we are all in the image of God.
Joanna, who works on the blog, was really affected by Billie Holiday’s song Strange Fruit when she first heard it in college. I listened to it, too, and it seems appropriate as we mourn. But for those of us not in America, let’s remember that this is not just an American problem. Let’s be humble together. And lament.
I know the riots are scary–I can only imagine. And I don’t have a good answer, or any answer, really.
But I just know that watching the two videos last week broke my heart, and I think we need to sit with that for a while. That’s why I wanted to post this, even though I’m not American. It was just too sad, and too important, to not say anything.
Please, then, let’s not turn this political in the comments. If it does, I will turn off the comments. I’m Canadian, not American. I write as someone just watching, and I don’t want to get dragged into any ugliness. Rather than fighting each other, let’s listen to those who are weeping, and let’s lament together.