I never thought about the color of my skin so much as I have the last few years. I'm full blooded Mexican, that is my heritage, and I am very light in skin color. I am considered part of the advantaged majority very much in that sense. I am also married to a white man with blue eyes. I have never thought about his race as much either. When I married him, I didn't think to myself, "I fell in love with a white man". I had fallen in love, and that's it. Recently, I often wonder what it would've been like to marry a man who is not part of the majority in our American society, the normative of our Christian culture.
It is obvious that white people make up the majority. What's not so obvious is the reckoning that majority groups hold more power, more authority, more control, more say, more options, and more natural advantages. Again, because in most cases, and generally speaking: the majority rules. This is why it is harder to find children's books with black heroes in them. This is why seeing a black man taking out his trash in a white suburban neighborhood triggers a call to the police. This is why little black girls grow up thinking straight smooth hair is a goal to someday achieve and not just a hairstyle option, as it will portray her as more professional and tame in education and work fields. This is why black churches are often seen as not serious enough or lacking doctrinal soundness- it's too loud, too different, too joyful. This is why long after segregation was abolished and black families began integrating into major cities, white people resettled to outer parts of the cities... the white normative was threatened. Anything outside of this normative is too different, too dark, too unknown, even dangerous.
We're living in this. Here's the difference, we have the advantage of not thinking about our race. People of color don't. People of color are exhausted by the racial awareness that has historically been a part of their identity. Imagine saying the word "white" every single time you speak of a white person, and you will get a glimpse into that exhaustion.
So, what now? What do we do with this lack of racial awareness for those of us who have not looked into our very own heritage? And why should white people care?
Firstly, I'm going to assume you are a Christian, reading this Christian blog post. There is no way for us to heed the words of our Savior; to love others more than ourselves and lay our lives down for them without racial awareness. Without racial awareness, we are left to buy into the lie that color-blindness unites us. Racial empathy cannot exist where color-blindness is being taught, it will kill any bit of harmony while it bursts open wounds of those afflicted by racism. Read carefully brothers and sisters, you cannot possibly know the struggle of your black siblings unless you see their race as an important part of their heritage identity. You cannot love them greater than yourself and lay your life down for them if you're not even willing to lay your individual and structural advantages down for them. You cannot serve them well if you don't see the color of their skin as an important part of their daily experience, struggles and all.
If we believe that Jesus is the true God, ruler of the eternal universe, we must not only stand in awe of this doctrine, we must consider the severity of His calling to His beloved; to love others in a world of chaos. This is counter cultural, as it should be. This is what being the church looks like, we put the flesh and bones on the gospel of grace.
We must remember that the Jesus we serve placed His own advantages down to love and give His life to people who didn't have any. This is love, dear church. It is tiresome, but possible by the empowering Spirit of God, which dwells within us.
If you start feeling guilty, please recognize it and do not dwell in it. It is never the intent to make anyone guilty. White guilt has absolutely no place in the church, and it is just as much anti-gospel as feeling superior for being white. If you are white, surrounded by mostly white people, have all white friends, and go to all white churches and schools, you do not need to feel guilty. No amount of guilt will motivate you to love the way Christ calls us to. We ought to recognize that our lack of consciousness when it comes to race is an actual advantage, how can we use that advantage to count others greater than ourselves? How can we model the diverse Kingdom of God, as we encourage each other to empathize in a culture where we are tempted to fend for ourselves and forget our neighbors? My hope for the future is that we, as the church, would set the pace for this lifestyle of selflessness- growing in racial awareness and empathy. This changes lives, your own life and that of others. This motivates us towards an activism that has greater eternal weight for God's glory.
28 Days is a project about perspectives of people whose lives intertwine with the black struggle either personally or through others close to them. Along with their perspective they entrust us with what they hope for moving forward.
We hope this helps drive conversation, breaks down barriers and incites change.
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