Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Rodney King

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

a pretty sure life

The rights and responsibilities
Of a pretty sure life
Hang weightless around her neck

She glides fairly easily
From one scene into the next
Wearing privilege on her skin

Without effort she blends in
Sometimes anxious but rarely for her life
Mature, sweet and polite she passes easily

A charming married woman with children
She meets the gold standard
Against which womanhood is weighed

No need to check her credentials
Her language or demeanor
No need to run a background check

She’s one of us
Sometimes unruly and annoying
Yet harmless
Because her heart beats white

I’ve been the beneficiary of many opportunities. Not strictly because of who I am, but because I’m a white woman. And because I’m not a rabble-rouser or revolutionary. I’m just a steady, dependable, meticulous, relationally gifted white woman who gets along with just about everyone. What more is there?

I don’t regret the opportunity to be part of an academic faculty and administration. I do, however, regret how oblivious I was to my white privilege even though I was part of an unusually diverse community of students, staff and faculty. Only with the Rodney King event and its aftermath at our seminary did I begin to scratch the surface of my white privilege.

I’m reminded daily of how easily our country ignores, suppresses and tries to bury our history. Mr. Trump has made visible what’s been there all along. No secrets here. Just inconvenient truth, and an opportunity to seize the moment.

My heart beats white. I’m still unpacking what this means for me.

Thanks for listening!
Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 August 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Visceral

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