Hello, my name is Fran and I’m a racist.* I don’t intend to be a racist, and I don’t want to be a racist. I’m committed to uncovering and clearing it out from within myself. This may take my whole life. I know I can’t easily escape hundreds of years of cultural imprinting. This kind of deep principality can only come out by means of prayer, fasting, and long-term intention and work.
I’m less of a racist now than I used to be, I think. Which is good. But I’m nowhere near done with my transformation. I don’t have any degrees or credentials in the subject, nor have I read all the books (I’ve read some). My street cred as an advocate is next to nothing. I defer to folks who have done this work far longer and far better than my imperfect bumbling. And I defer to my sisters and brothers of color who have lived experience inside racist culture.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been pondering a few things related to current events and cultural programming. One is Thanksgiving - how the narrative taught to school children regarding the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is largely inaccurate and whitewashed, as well as hurtful to Indigenous people. Another is the tear-gassing of impoverished Brown people at the US border. Another is the result of recent elections, particularly those in Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi; all of which were influenced by racism against Black people (example).
People of color have been seeing racism all along - they bear its effects in their family histories, their bodies, their bank accounts. This is not new. It’s us white folks who have waking up to do. It’s up to us to pray with humility and educate ourselves. Also: not enough white pastors are preaching about it. So this litany is for us; for white individuals and congregations who want to pray into this deep-rooted system of injustice, and posture ourselves to work for the liberation and restoration of our siblings; and who want to uncover racism where it lies hidden in our own hearts.
Oh God, we are gradually waking up
To the knowledge of our deep and hidden sins;
Most particularly, to the sin of racism
Which has affected our culture, psyche, and practice.
We thought we could say, “Oh, those racist generations have passed on. The civil rights movement already happened.”
We thought we had leveled the playing field.
We thought we could ignore Whiteness.
We thought we didn’t have to see color.
But we know that we have more work to do,
To cleanse, heal and establish justice.
We quit before the work was finished.
We were wrong.
Help us to see what we couldn’t see before.
Help us to examine everything:
Every custom and system,
Every group dynamic and assumption,
To leave no stone unturned in our mission
To rout out injustice;
To take every thought captive (1)
To the loving ethic of Christ.
This work is messy.
We feel sensitive about it.**
We feel overwhelmed and ashamed.
Help us not to minimize or shirk,
Nor capitulate to our fragile egos,
Nor be blinded by our privilege.
Give us robust hearts,
Willing to take an unflinching look at the racism within us.
And as we sift through our habits, culture and customs,
Examining them with a new sensitivity to injustice,
Help us to embody hope,
And above all, love for our neighbors.
Make us aligned to the Community of Heaven,
Diligently working for liberation.
1) 2 Corinthians 10:5
*If you are a white person of privilege and you say you aren’t a racist, well, you’re probably wrong and it’s best to just face it. Read more here.
**Our feelings of sensitivity as white people are small compared to the feelings of people of color who experience oppression and fear for their lives. But that doesn’t mean the feelings don’t get in our way regardless.