Pause to think for a moment: you’re boarding a public bus to head downtown for some errands, maybe to the department store before a Saturday lunch at a barstool diner. In front of you, an older gentlemen steps onto the bus, pays, and turns walks past the only empty seat in the front, all the way to the back where he will stand for the ride, because where he sits depends not on his age or order of boarding, but on the color of his skin. You follow him onto the bus and then, because your skin is white, rest yourself in that front seat.
White people in the front, Black people in the back.
And when you get off that bus, heading toward Woolworths, you stop for a drink at a water fountain. There’s a water fountain clearly designated for you, which you enjoy before a quick stop at the “Whites only” bathroom.
All of this happens out in the open, right there in the 1950s, in front of God and everybody. Continue reading “Tied into a Single Garment of Destiny with MLK”
Your deconstruction is not for you. — Jeff Chu
The Evolving Faith conference just ended: it’s the first trip in a long time where I don’t want to go back home. Autumn in Denver was sunny and crisp, sure, but the geographical magic was in the soul. Continue reading “Your Deconstruction is not just for you”
“When we rode home together that afternoon, side by side in the backseat of his mother’s blue sedan, I was silent and so was he, pretending nothing had happened between us that day. But inside of me, something still and deep, something precious, had broken.”
Within the first chapter of Nicole Chung’s book, All You Can Ever Know, she’s heard her first racist slur. A schoolmate pulls “his eyes into slits”, sing-song chanting at her before they hop in the carpool together, like nothing happened. It’s only the 2nd grade, but the parents who adopted her at birth had insisted on being colorblind, which means this is her first introduction to race.
It’s taken me months to figure out why this book was so impacting — why I carried her story around in my heart as one of my own. Its influence on me didn’t entirely make sense, aside from the writer’s axiom that the more specific and personal the work, the more universal it is. But there is something more here, something I may not entirely want to talk about. Continue reading “All You Can Ever Know”
MLK Jr. Day has become a special day for me over the past decade. It was at an MLK celebration over ten years ago that I became painfully aware that the seeds of racism were still buried and growing in the soil of my soul… and my own unawareness of it was hard to accept. It wasn’t just that I was ignorant; for the first time I saw what a luxury it was to be ignorant. Being able to ignore race matters is what you might call a privilege.
As I became more aware of the real and subtle presence of racism today – in this country and also in my heart – it led me to learn more. After all, that was my real offense, wasn’t it, thinking it was all fine because it was all fine in my white world?
The obvious next step was to Continue reading “The Already and the Not Yet of MLK”
The MLK march was cancelled – with the police escorts all working the Montecito Mudstorm recovery. What now? Warning: when you cannot find a way to help, you will feel helpless.
Helpless is the distance of a dozen miles between me and the disaster Continue reading “Helpless”
If history gave us mulligans, I would infiltrate the Crusades and make one tiny change. Instead of a crusade of control and conversion, I would wage a war of wasteful embrace. And marching Continue reading “A Wasteful Embrace”
The more I’ve tried to write about this, the more it bothers me.
The usual balm of reading and data digging backfired – it only showed me just how awful the problem is. What seemed like one symbol was actually hundreds, out in public, for the whole nation to remember.
To remember the wrong thing.
What is leaving me stunned Continue reading “Lost Cause”