Archive for January, 2010


Seeking sustenance for the journey

January 31, 2010

This morning, an insistent yearning  compelled  me to go outside to my garden. I knew I was weary and seeking sustenance. I pulled away some of the murky, composted leaves to better see bright green shoots just beginning to poke their heads out of the muck.  In an isolated corner of the front yard, a solitary primrose offered its bouquet of blue flowers as invitation. Why tears began to come, I’m not sure. Sometimes a sense of hope in the midst of challenging times can be both consoling and a release of the tension you recognize you have been holding. Doing anti-racist work is difficult.  Read the rest of this entry ?


A view from the pedestal or from the depths?

January 27, 2010

I’m excited about a soon-to-be published Journal on Race, Ethnicity and Religion.

Why a Journal on Race, Ethnicity and Religion?

This short article by the editor is well worth reading.  What caught my attention was a comment about academia:

The view of the academic landscape from the pedestal of privilege is radically different than the view from the depths of disenfranchisement. Read the rest of this entry ?


When I preached last Sunday

January 25, 2010

When I preached last Sunday I met a black man, Michael, who I’d guess to be his late 20s/early 30s.  He had happened to walk by the reader board outside the church that publicized the sermon title that my colleague and I were co-preaching: Racism in Black and White.  It intrigued him enough to come to the service in a church he apparently had not visited before.  He came with a big Bible in his hands that appeared to be well read. Read the rest of this entry ?



January 22, 2010

Merriam Webster defines whitewash as “to whiten”:  transitive verb : to make white or whiter intransitive verb : to become white or whiter

Last night I was at a teach-in in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It featured a panelist of Seattle civil rights activists. A black student noted that “The Martin Luther King, Jr. I heard about from my parents when I was growing up is quite different from the one I learn about in school.  Now, it’s all about him and love, love, love, and not very much about the radical things he said and did.”   A panelist agreed that too often the focus on Martin Luther King has been softened, obscuring some of his more radical writings and challenges to power.

I suspect whitewashing. Read the rest of this entry ?


Who is telling the story?

January 20, 2010

Storytelling has power; how and what that power influences depends on who is telling the story. I recently finished The Help, a novel about black women “domestics” and the white women for whom they worked in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 60s.  The book is written by Kathryn Stockett, a white woman who grew up in Mississippi. I heard an NPR interview with her which noted the buzz the book was generating.  I was curious about it. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Fierce Urgency of Now

January 19, 2010

It’s been over 45 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. called us to take a stand against racism with these words. I ache as I realize it has been that long.  As a white person, I have not been very fierce or urgent. I have been too often distracted by the privileged world in which I live. I’ve diminished the cries of those who suffer as if I was turning down a radio dial when the sound gets too loud.  Working for racial justice requires one to be conscious; not just when it’s convenient, but in every moment. I recommit to staying awake. Read the rest of this entry ?


I have a race?

January 15, 2010

It’s shocking to be in your 50s and realize for the first time that you have a race. Race, as I had learned well from my family, education, church, and government, was always about the other, not us. My job as a good white person was to learn about the “other” and help them to be as much like me as possible. Because I (and my unnamed white race) had the answers; the truth and the way. We were the standard against which everything else was measured. Of course, no one ever said this out loud, but it was in the air that I freely breathed everyday. That same air, I now understand, was choking others. Read the rest of this entry ?


Beginning to speak

January 15, 2010

Audre Lorde has been my traveling companion in this journey; her courage and wisdom challenges and sustains me to work for justice. When I am tempted to stay silent, I hear her words:   “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” (1978, The Black Unicorn)


What does it mean to be white?

January 15, 2010

Two  years ago I was asked this question while sitting in a circle of white educators at a social justice institute. The group response was silence; my eyes became focused on the floor. Inside my head other questions swirled in response: What does this question mean? What is the answer? Why don’t I know what to say? In that non-descript hotel conference room, many miles away from home, I began a journey that has been tumultuous and changed my life. My blog is one way to continue the journey and invite others to join the conversation.