June 18, 2015

Becoming conscious of protecting my Whiteness

In light of the recent Charleston shooting at a historical AME church, I want to acknowledge that I protect myself from being vulnerable when White folks begin talking about racism, Whiteness, and White privilege. It's not something I've been conscious of until recently. To outsiders and observers, I can come across as listening intently, or as adding to the discussion by sharing "what I've learned as a White person."

Inside my own skin, though, as someone who is working for racial justice, I know I am not stretching myself by sharing parts of my own anti-racism journey. Sharing my experience is something I do fairly easily. In some respects, I'm putting on what I now see as a show, for the sake of accompanying others who are struggling, and I get praise and encouragement for doing so.

I'm the only one who knows that I could be doing more. I could be making myself more vulnerable, take more risks. The Inward Teacher, along with guidance from friends of color, is in fact giving me such instruction.

I might not feel ready to take on more risk, like participating in direct actions of civil disobedience that could end with my being arrested.  Even as I hesitate, God loves me. And God requires that I do more on behalf of God's Family and its members of color that are not treated kindly.


June 11, 2015

Encounter at Walgreens

About a week ago, I was going to my local Walgreens. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a man lying on his side on the grass that separates the city's sidewalk from the parking area. Then I realized (1) he wasn't just sleeping, he was passed out; and (2) he was Native American.  I parked close by, sat on the grass beside him, and used my voice to try to stir him. Nothing happened. Then I took the risk to tap his arm, to see if that would awaken him. I was relieved that his arm was warm but he didn't stir.

I was clear that I would not be calling the police.

I ended up calling a friend of mine who is Native American, hoping to get his counsel. He didn't answer his phone, though, and I left him a message. A minute later, a group of 5 or 6 Native Americans, ranging in age from 16 to 60, appeared from behind me, and another 2 or 3 employees of Walgreens came across the parking lot toward us. The first group pulled the man to his feet and were able to rouse him back to alertness; the Walgreens workers, including a store manager, thanked me for being there.

After the Walgreens people left, and I was standing there stunned by the sudden appearance of "everyone."  I was starting to back away, to give the group some privacy.  Then the youngest of them came up to me, shook my hand several times over--from a traditional White handshake to a finger-clench one and then something like a fist bump--and ended by saying, "Hey, thank you."

I was so very humbled by the whole thing. And very relieved that no one had called the police.