I would like for us to do something a little different this week. As you know Westwood has been reading a book called “The Myth of Equality.” It’s about uncovering the roots of injustice and privilege in our country and in our lives. On Thursday night of this week (July 23rd) we will be hosting a Zoom conversation about the book at 7:00 p.m.
This week I’d like to take a quote from the book each day and have us think about it together. Even if you have not read the book or do not plan to join us on Thursday, I think this will be a good exercise for us as a congregation.
Of course, the quotes we will look at are not scripture. However, sometimes God will use authors and speakers and friends to speak truth that we might have missed otherwise. I encourage you to think about what the author is saying.
So, let’s jump in. It may be hard. But we’ll do it together…
“White privilege doesn’t mean your life isn’t hard. It means that if you are a person of color, simply by virtue of that, your life might be harder. . . When we look at a river, it’s easy to see that the middle, where the current flows, is much different from the edges, where little pools are formed and things can stagnate. White privilege has meant, historically, that you’ve been born into the middle of the river, where things flow more easily.” (p. 26)
I remember in college taking education classes and learning about how difficult school can be for people of color. It was here that I most likely first heard the term “white privilege.” I don’t remember the actual first time I heard it, but I do remember my first reaction: “no way am I privileged. Life is just as hard for me as it is for anyone. Why don’t they just work harder?”
Fortunately, I had a black suite mate in my dorm who began to show me that indeed, white privilege is something that exists and I that have been the beneficiary of that privilege my whole life. He talked to me about his experience in high school and with the Tulsa police (where I went to college). In fact, it was from this suite mate that I first learned about the Tulsa race massacre, Black Wall Street, and the scar it had left on that city.
Maybe you’re like me –it’s hard to admit that we have had things easier just because of our skin color, especially when we’ve had to struggle and work hard in life. And yet, if we start to really look at it, we can see that our society has “privileged” white people over people of color. It’s part of our history and its effects are felt to this day.
Seeing white privilege is the first step towards justice. I need to understand that the world has been set up to make sure I, as a white man, have every opportunity to succeed. Whereas for people of color the world has been created with hurdles and barriers that make succeeding that much harder.
The question we have to ask ourselves is this: does white privilege belong in the Kingdom of God? The obvious answer is “no, course not.” But that means that if we are going to be disciples of Christ –if we are going to pray “Thy Kingdom Come” –then we are going to have to work to eliminate the barriers and hurdles that white privilege have created. It’s hard work –but Kingdom work always is.
God, help us to see how white privilege impacts our lives. Help us to understand how we have benefited from this privilege and what steps we can take to make this society one that ensures that all your children are treated with equality and justice.