Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Racism

Monday morning questions

This past week I had a serendipitous moment while shopping for groceries. No kidding!

In the produce department a gentleman stopped me and asked if I was a past president of the seminary where I taught and was dean. I laughed and said no way! I’d been professor and dean, but never president. Nor did I ever aspire to that office.

He laughed with me, and said he’d heard me speak at the seminary. He even remembered what I talked about. I was astonished. He wasn’t one of our students. Today he’s a pastor in this area, and is African American.

In the early 1990s the seminary was challenged by the Rodney King event. Because I was being promoted with tenure, I’d been asked to give the opening academic year address. My title and  text were from Psalm 23, “In the Presence of My Enemies.”  What did we need to do to begin coming to terms with our overt, covert and unrecognized racism?

The bottom line was simple. According to Psalm 23, we’re invited to a table prepared by God. There’s only one hitch. This table is prepared “in the presence of my enemies.” Not God’s enemies, but mine–whether real or perceived. Furthermore, there’s no clear reason to think my real and perceived enemies aren’t included at this table.

So now that we’re sitting at this table prepared for us (the seminary), who’s going to speak first? Who’s willing to break the silence so we can begin getting to know and perhaps better understand and support each other?

This morning I’m thinking about what’s happening all over this world, especially right here in my small territory. I believe God has prepared a table for me in the presence of my enemies–whether real or perceived.

So who’s willing to go first? Am I? How important is it to me? Otherwise, why am I taking up space at the table?

Events of today and last week make this a not so happy Monday. Yet the presence of our Creator in the territory means there’s more going on than meets the eye. Am I, are we, up to the challenge of daring to speak first? Not to talk about others, but to listen to each other and to ourselves. After all, it’s our Creator’s territory, not ‘mine’ or ‘yours.’

Happy Monday, despite the news and noise of the hour!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 January 2020
Image found at pinterest.com

The Rift

It isn’t new. It’s older than our nation. It dogs us like the monster it is. Yet we say we don’t see it, or things have gotten better, or it’s the way things were meant to be.

The rift is bolder and more brazen today than at any time in my lifetime. It runs like a fault line beneath everything we say, do, feel and think about in our relationships with each other.

It isn’t the only fault line. And, as I said at the top, it isn’t new. It’s simply in our faces—even though many seem not to see it.

Not seeing it is part of the problem. Sometimes people say to me, ‘Oh—I don’t see gender any more. I just see people!’ How odd.

But this rift isn’t about gender. It’s about something that affects each of us in this country. It doesn’t matter which gender we’re born into, or whether we seek to change our gender or not.

I hear it often these days: ‘Oh—I don’t see color anymore. I’m color-blind!’ As though being blind were the solution. Or even making black or brown one ‘color’ among all the rest.

In this country we have an ill-kept secret. We are racist to the core. I am racist to the core. This is true even though we have varying degrees of consciousness and commitment to rectifying injustices perpetrated on our black neighbors and fellow-citizens.

It didn’t happen yesterday. It happened the moment we began building our nation on the backs of slave labor. Yes, we’ve used white slave labor also, and are still addicted to that. Witness our below-living standard wages in many states and businesses.

But the case of imported slave labor has its own history—which is foundational to our nation’s history. It includes what’s happening today in our school systems, prisons, courts and neighborhoods.

It’s no longer enough to say ‘I’m against racism.’ Or ‘this company, university, state, nation or political party is against racism in all its forms.’

The question is more basic than that: Are we committed in our homes and in our places of business to dismantling racism? Are we engaging our brothers and sisters in conversation, letting them lead us to take strategic action together to replace policies and procedures that enable racism?

This is personal and institutional work. Not an overnight fix, or an easy answer to a survey question. It asks us to stand up and be counted on the side of dismantling racism—not just saying we’re ‘antiracist.’

Eloquent statements or sermons, and ever-so-large protests aren’t working. We seem to be at a stalemate.

In fact, we seem to be going backwards. We’ve developed and largely accepted a devious approach to being color-blind. We lock people up in prisons, restrict them to certain parts of our cities, towns, businesses and school systems, and lower the impact of their votes in state and national elections.

Out of sight, out of mind? An increasingly uneven playing field? This isn’t a proud legacy. It’s a judgment and a strategy against all of us.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 January 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Uneven

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