November 21, 2013

Continuing the Conversation

Several months ago, following the George Zimmerman verdict, I wrote,
"The narrative of Southern California and the mid-Atlantic are different. But they tell the same tale. It’s a story of dominance. A story that establishes a particular group as winners and others as losers–one group as good, another as bad. And once this is settled within the fabric of a culture, it’s difficult to undo."
The conversation about race in America is alive and well. Last week, our Diocese hosted a conversation on the subject. And the meeting I participated in over the last two days also faced this in its conversation. (Ryan Bell summarizes that well here.)

I'm wondering what the Spirit is up to around me and in my own soul as this continues to come up.

As a white person, I do know two things–which I mentioned yesterday–that people like me ought to remember as this conversation continues:
  • Anger is a gift. When white people sit in these conversations there is a tendency to get angry. Angry with yourself, with other white people, with an unjust system or with people of color. Often, people are fearful of this anger and expell most of their energy trying to not be angry. In the words of Zach de la Rocha, "Anger is a gift!" But as my Anabaptist bothers and sisters have taught me, hot anger will do nothing but violence. But cold anger? Cold anger can do a lot of good in the word!
  • Don't congratulate yourself. There's a tendency amongst white folks to pat ourselves on the back when we've had the hard conversations. When we've cried with our sisters and brothers of color. But you are not to be congratulated. Don't expect to be. The gift you are given in those moments is the glimpse you receive of what the rest of the world lives with 24/7.
I had the opportunity to have a conversation about race and culture with my team mates here at the Diocese earlier this week. I thought I'd share that with you below. Share your thoughts in the comments!

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