Racism, betrayal and Rachel Dolezal; all live within me.

June 13, 2015

Tangled web we weave

Racism kills. People.  Common Sense.  Relationship.  Betrayal burns the heart. Trust may never arise from the ashes.

Rachel Dolezal. Spokane. Where I grew up and met one black person in my K-12 education. None in my neighborhood.  Whiteness, privilege, ignorance.  I’m steeped in it.

I want to step out of it. I know that I cannot do that independently from communities of color holding me accountable. Because I will desperately want to believe that I have gone beyond my privilege.  And the slope from there slips quickly towards delusion and magical thinking.

As Darnell Moore reminds us,

“But white privilege is a truth. And it is perhaps no more obvious than when a white woman, posing as a black woman, achieves prominence while fighting on behalf of the people she has betrayed.”

Watching the video of Rachel’s interview, I wondered how deception developed as a way of being for her. I was caught in the “how to explain how a white person could do this” mode in ways that would make me different from Rachel.  Distance myself from the “bad white person.”

More helpful is asking myself what part of Rachel lives in me and how might I rationalize deception at any level for the “greater good.” How I, as a white person, have had my decisions about the “good” affirmed at every level  of my life. That at a deep level, I am convinced I am right about most things.

Where do I betray the truth of racism because it serves me to do so?  Because the truth is painful and I have the privilege to choose to distance myself from it. As people of color do not.

The invitation to me and others who are white is to ask ourselves where our tangled webs of racism and privilege are betraying ourselves and humanity. Are we going to choose to stay caught or seek freedom?  We can refuse to get distracted from our own internal racism work by fixating on the mistakes of others. We can ask ourselves instead, “How does this live in me?”

Image from: http://hideyourarms.com/2010/03/19/tangled-web-weave-excellent-typography-tee-random-objects/

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