Monday, January 16, 2012

An MLK day post

Happy MLK day. I hope that you have spent some time reflecting on today's meaning. I will honestly say (ashamedly) that I have respected this holiday more today than I ever have before, and it has to do with how racism now affects my life.

Until the past year or so I thought I was educated about racial matters and understood what racism in the U.S. looks like, but I was wrong. Yes, I could point it out in broad sweeping occasions like schools and neighborhoods, but as far as seeing it in people's hearts, well I had no idea.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, I'm not quite sure) over the past year I have seen it in people around me. In those that I am close with and those that I speak with in passing and even in my own heart. And I must say, it makes my heart sick. Growing up I thought of racism as an extremist point of view, but really it is quite subtle, quite dangerous.

Yesterday's sermon at Fellowship was about race relations. It was great! I would highly recommend you take an hour (yes we have hour long sermons--aren't we holy) and listen to/watch it.

I just want to mention that it is called "Crossing Summer." We live on the "wrong" side of Summer. Just thought it was funny.

In case you don't click on the above link, I'm going to share a little of it from my sermon notes. Please read through this and genuinely think about it. All credit for these thoughts goes to Bryan Loritts--I'm just loosely quoting him.

Racism is a disposition of superiority that is directly tied to a persons ethnicity.

Questions to ask yourself regarding racism in your own heart
  • What do you really think or express in your safest moments? Stereotypes in your mind, jokes with friends, etc.
  • Do you assume the worst of the other?
  • Is there service without brotherhood? Do you serve those of another race without having a genuine relationship with them?
  • What angers you the most and why? This is my thought, but why are you so mad at Obama?
  • Do you engage with or avoid the other?
A racist person is one who does not have authentic relations with the other. This won't just happen, you must be intentional about it. We must be willing to embrace discomfort.

Here are a few examples of how people have unknowingly shown me their hearts towards African Americans.
  • After showing a woman a picture of my daughter, she didn't say aww she's cute or anything like that, she pointed across the room at a black woman and said, "I used to work with her and she is very professional and intelligent." As if to assure me that it was okay that my child is black, she still has a chance at intelligence. It was all I could do not to slap her. I just moved away. But it gave me a glimpse of what K and African American people have to overcome to be successful. ARGH! I get mad just thinking about it.
  • K was dressed all cute and Christmasy and we ran into a family friend. She commented on how cute K was in her Christmas attire and then proceeded to tell a story about how many of "those kids" have never even gotten to sit on Santa's lap. the horror! I smiled and nodded and walked away neglecting to tell her that K had not gotten her picture with Santa.
As I am typing out these examples, I can't help but wonder if I should have pointed out how their words sound and what they are really saying. Both of these are examples of people just trying to make small talk, so I hesitated to take it into anything more, but... What is my role? I have a unique situation of being white, "safe," so people think they can say things to me that they otherwise wouldn't say in front of a person of color, but I see the meaning behind those words, what those words say about their true thoughts about African Americans. Hmmm...thoughts?

And a picture as thanks for making it to the end. Our little cutie in the dress her Pawpaw brought her from Africa.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Love this, Kristin. It's such a blessing to have Karis as kind of a "window" into what it's like to be treated as the "other" like Bryan was talking about yesterday.
Great post1