Many of us white people are asking what we can do in these days where racism abounds. Here’s a few places to start:
- I challenge you to listen. Hurting people need to be heard. Listen to those around you. Make an effort to listen to someone you don’t even know. If you don’t know anyone of color, look up Dr. Christena Cleveland. She has been challenging our culture on racism for years now and in 2015 she challenged me as I heard her. It’s time to listen, search ourselves and repent of biases that we may not even realize we have. It’s healthy to hear and learn from someone that’s different from us. I can pass my privilege to others or I can use it to degrade others. It’s time to listen, acknowledge fear, pain and suffering.
- I challenge is to move out of our comfort zones and be extra kind to people we do not know, especially people who are different from us. Just today I’m training myself to be more aware of my surroundings. As I exited me car at work I saw a family taking a walk, an African American family, and I normally would have kept walking but I stopped and engaged with them in conversation. This is small but it widens my circle and even small efforts make the world a better place.
- Educate yourself. I believe the roots of racism are full of ignorance. It’s time to learn, to read, to engage in conversation with someone seeking the knowledge we need to stop oppressing any group. Read the stories of people of color. Join a group where you can make friends of color. You’ll gain a great blessing!
- Extend your privilege to others. How? Get to know people of color and seek to make their pathway easier in any way you can. I help high school graduates whose parents know nothing about college fill out applications; I help steer them towards a job. I’m a reference for them because I know them. I lovingly guide those I can. I do this because I had support and now it’s my turn to support others.
- Pray. I can ask God to search me and know me. If I listen to God I will notice things about myself that are ugly that need to be changed. This is a lifelong process. Can we be brave enough to face our biases/prejudices, name them and repent of them? I can pray for my community. I can pray for those hurting. I can pray for my leaders to lead towards good and not towards divisiveness.
In an effort to reach out my family and I made a sign that we placed on our porch. We live downtown, just one block away from the police station. When we heard protesters were coming to our doorstep I felt led to do something positive. We painted a banner that said, “I see you. I will listen.” We received a loving response from our community. People passing by honked and waved. Some even yelled, “We love you!” and we yelled back. What we did was so minimal. It was small, but it was something. Nobody approached us to talk. It’s ok.
One of my favorite quotes is this: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke