Thursday, October 6, 2011

let's talk about race.

It's interesting.  This post has been heavy on my heart for a long time, and I even started writing it about  a month ago.  And yet I've been reluctant to keep working on it -- to finish and post it.  A part of it is that no matter how many times I go over this post, I find that it's lacking.  There's always something more to say -- always something I can't quite articulate -- and I feel like it might be pointless to post it without saying every little thing I feel needs to be said.  But on the other hand, I think that's just an excuse.  Because I can post about race again -- it's not like this is the last post I will ever make for the rest of my life.  The discussion needs to start somewhere.  And that's the other point -- it needs to be a discussion.  I will not get to say everything I want to say, but that's where you come in.  You will probably say something I didn't say, or didn't even think to say.

But I think the other reason I've procrastinated on this post is because it's hard.  Although we think we live in a racially-equal society, we are still so hesitant to talk about it.  We hide behind the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement, but we do not reach out to our neighbors.  We tend to (and not everyone, I realize, but the majority) make friends with people who look, act, talk, and dress like us.  We want to stay in the comfort zone.  (I'm, of course, speaking generally here.)

But I don't want to stay in the comfort zone, because I know that's not where God wants me.  He made everyone with a specific heritage -- a rich variety of people.  And honestly, I learn the least about loving people when there is no struggle.  So.  I want to talk about race.  Struggle and all.

And I hope and pray you will join the conversation.  (Of course, there's a rich conversation already going on, so please check it out.)

Here are a few things that need to be said (that I don't feel like are said enough, at least in my whitey-white circles):

1) The "I-don't-see-color" Issue:  I'm going to come right out and say that until recently (ie. in the last couple years), my (faulty) approach to people of other races was, "I don't see color.  We're all the same." I (thought I) treated everyone as completely equal because I just "didn't notice" whether they were black or white or this race or that.  In my mind, we were all the same, and that made me okay.  I was "safe."  It was only last year that I realized how hurtful this approach truly was.  It completely ignores the intense history that people of color carry with them every day.  It keeps me living in a white obliviousness wherein I don't have to have difficult conversations.  It excuses the hurt and harm and devastation of the past.  It gives us no hope for the future.  It's just plain not right, and we need to break the cycle by bringing it up.  For a really great post on this issue, go here.

2) It's the Only Way to Move Forward:  If we don't talk about it -- if we don't engage in the conversation -- if we don't reach out across our comfort zones -- then we will remain a largely segregated society.  If you're in school, think about your school cafeteria.  If you're in the suburbs, think about your neighborhood.  Think about who your friends are -- who comes to your house, who comes to your parties, etc.  Really, how segregated are we still?  And why is this still the reality?  Isn't it sadly bizarre how after 40+ years, I can still live in a town that is basically full of all white people?  It creeps me out, honestly.  And I want it to change. But in order to change it, I need to have the conversation.

3) God's Definition of Worship:  In Revelation, we read about people from "every tribe and tongue and nation" worshiping the Lord -- here on earth, and someday in the new earth.  We are a racially diverse people of God, and yet in my own life, I have failed to attend one racially diverse church (for a consistent time).  And I ache for it, friends.  My heart aches because I know the Lord's heart aches for us to heal this part of our brokenness.  And honestly, if the church doesn't pave the way for this sort of reconciliation, then who will?  And how can we sit silently and just let it happen -- let the ignorance, the blindness, the "I-only-make-friends-with-people-who-look-like-me" happen?

I don't have the answers or the eloquence to make this post (or subsequent posts) super-awesome and profound.  The reality is, I have and will continue to make mistakes.  But I'd rather make them and grow than stay scared of saying something wrong.  I'd rather be a part of a reconciled church than stay comfortable.

So seriously.  
I won't stay silent any more.
And I hope you won't either.

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