My Privilege

hard to see racism when you're white
I have been, emotionally, going through a lot these past number of years. It’s a journey that has taken on a new intensity recently, but in all honesty, this journey, around privilege, is one that began while I was dating my wife (before she was my wife that is).

There was a moment, which I think she’ll remember, a moment in a coffee shop when I was talking rather loudly about something which was probably best for me not to talk about so loudly (or publicly). She then calmed me down, and drew my attention to someone listening whose posture reflected how they processed what I had said: sadness and disappointed. I was brought low, crashing into the reality of the situation, and realized my mistake. I went over to this person and apologized. It wasn’t easy. It was probably one of the single most difficult things I’ve ever had to do (next to being a parent, which NEVER STOPS and also happens to have the most wonderful surprises on a daily basis).

Since then, I have begun to wake up to the reality and extent of my privilege. In the work that I do, this awareness is a must. By acknowledging my inherent privilege, and the unspoken imbalance that puts on many of my interactions with people in my community, I am able to learn, grow and serve in ways that were previously unavailable to me.

I found the below comic on facecrack the other day and it very clearly articulates some things that I have taken to heart in my desire to manage my privilege. The artist clearly articulates 5 things that I, and everyone with privilege, can do. These are things that I have begun doing over the past years, but I never really could articulate them this well. The more I think about these things, the more they will become the norm for me, the more I will be able to truly walk alongside my community and be with them instead of trying to “rescue” them with all my power and privilege. I really like how the artist articulates in point 5 about not speaking FOR people, but standing up WITH them. In my own faith journey, that’s something that I think Jesus did that I don’t do well at all. He was with people. He went where they were. He became one of us to be with us. He set aside his divine privilege to muck it out with his beloved. He encourages us to walk with people, not for them, not over them, not pull them up out of the muck and mire, but to work with them, sometimes to simply BE with them. It’s incredibly uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable to be sure. But I’m getting used to it…maybe.

Maybe you agree and maybe you don’t. That’s ok. Maybe you don’t even get what it is that I’m saying. That’s ok too. I was there once. There was a time when I would have thought this was all a bunch of hokum. Hopefully though you have someone in your life who can open your eyes the way mine were. If you don’t, maybe you’ll meet them soon. If you want to talk with someone about this, there are plenty of people in your community that you can talk to, you just have to reach out. (if we’re friends, feel free to reach out to me.)

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