“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”
I’ve been on a journey into a new world of people and thinking, a group that I previously thought of as “others”. It’s the LGBTQ community, of which my daughter has become a part of since she came out. The good news is that I’ve found plenty of Love in God’s storehouse that overflows for all. The bad news is that I’ve had to confront a lot of things in myself to get there.
Well, actually both of those news stories are good.
There’s a special kind of challenge for a kid who grows up suppressing something they discover inside themselves, with few role models. I’ve had to ask myself how I’ve been a part of Continue reading “Paying Attention”
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”
Should we shout for change or quietly be the change?
I could intentionally build friendships across race lines in a culture with overt and residual racism.
I could live out empathy in a church that is not as empathetic as I’d hoped.
I could listen and learn what it’s like to be queer in a straight society.
And none of this requires yelling or fighting the people and systems in power.
But don’t some things require trying to change others too? Continue reading “Act Justly”