Mary Jacks of Redmond, OR, USA
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16
January 19, 2019, stands out to me for two reasons. My niece and I went to hear Robin DiAngelo talk about her book White Fragility. As her lecture and the reviewers of her book state, I was challenged to embrace a more deeply nuanced exploration of white culture and dominance. While providing a powerful, scholarly analysis of white fragility, she also invited me to engage in deep personal inquiry and to be a part of collective change. As powerful forces of white racism swell around me, DiAngelo encouraged me to have a courageous conversation about my white culture of complicity and to relinquish ingrained hyper-attachment to individualism and predictable patterns of my own racial group.
Then, leaving the hall after her lecture, I fell in the dark trying to get in the car and broke a bone in my left foot. As I recovered from surgery and healing of my broken foot, I studied her book and engaged in conversation about the racism around me. One thing I know is that I am blind and unconscious as I miss so many things. As a white person raised in Western society, I am conditioned into a white supremacist worldview because it is the bedrock of my society and its institutions. Yes, I believe in the worth of all and diversity as our Enduring Principles proclaim. I was taught by my parents that everyone was equal. In addition, I have people of color in my family.
But as DiAngelo states (White Fragility, Boston: Beacon Press, 2018, p. 129) the ubiquitous socializing power of white supremacy cannot be avoided. These messages circulate 24/7 and have little or nothing to do with my intentions, awareness, or agreement. Entering conversations with this understanding is freeing because it allows me to focus on how-rather than if-my racism is manifest. When I move beyond the good/bad binary, I can become eager to identify my racist patterns because interrupting those patterns becomes more important than managing how I think I look to others.
Stopping my racist patterns is more important to me than working to convince others that I don’t have them. I do have them, and people of color around me already know I have them. My efforts to prove otherwise are not convincing. It is so very difficult, and I am learning many things. An honest accounting of these patterns is no small task for me given the power of white fragility and white solidarity, but it so necessary and I desire to be a part of the change.
Even now when I feel my foot ache or am aware of it as I work out daily on my treadmill, I am reminded that I am to continue on this journey of becoming more aware of my own racism and the power of conversations that can uncover it. Pray for me that it may be so!
I surrender into your love, O God.
What might it look like to surrender a little to God each day? A simple prayer of surrender can help us become aware of God’s consistent invitations to deeper relationship and awareness. Imagine when you encounter a challenging person or situation silently uttering this prayer, “I surrender into your love, O God.” The same prayer can be meaningful in moments of joy and gratitude as a way of returning to the awareness of oneness with God. It’s ok if we don’t surrender everything all at once all the time. The prayer of surrender is a constant practice of returning little by little to the deepest love that is the ground of our being and desires wholeness and oneness for us and all creation.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.