Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2019
I've been thinking all day about whether or not to post any of my own thoughts in regards to this important day.
Too often, white people hold the mic and white people are talking over other people and white people are trying to tell everyone else how the things are or how they should be. We are trying to tell the world how racist we each aren't and how much we love Martin Luther King... even if really we only think about him approximately one day each year. (And mayyyyybe again in February for Black History Month). We google a great quote about love and non-violence, share it with his photo, and feel we have done a good deed. I have done this for so many years.
Here I am, typing up more words because I don't want to be silent, either. It's a tricky tension trying to figure out how to shut up + sit down so I can listen and uplift voices of color..but also attempting to share what I've been learning and how my friends of color have taught me more about grace and forgiveness and Truth than most others in my life.
I never want my kids of color to think their white mom is going to sit idly by while the nation is at war and colorism penetrates every surrounding system. No matter how tricky the tension seems to feel to me, though, my friends of color here in Portland have shared with me that it cannot compare to the constant tension they feel walking around one of the whitest cities in America. It's a very very small discomfort, my "tricky tension."
So, I will keep trying to figure out my lane, and I am sure I will keep messing up and making mistakes and saying wrong things. But I will keep trying because my friends and kids, and honestly, humanity at large are worth it. Humanity benefits when we learn to see and believe the true value of each other.
Here is the prayer I've been mulling over today, on MLK Day:
May I never forget the privilege it is to parent these children whose skin is darker than mine, whose hair is textured and curly, whose lips are fuller, who come from descendants of Africa.
May I never forget that my whiteness has oppressed them for generations upon generations — continuing to too — and that they + their ancestors were and are made in the very image of God. We must always start with the Truth that each of us are made in the actual image of God.
May I teach my white son to be comfortable enough in his own white skin, that he can set down his pride and ego to defend his brown brothers and sisters and friends when the bullies at school are making fun of their lips or their hair or any piece of their blackness. As well as be comfortable enough to be confronted (without backlashing or whitesplaining) by those same brothers, sisters, and friends when he is perpetuating racism or stereotypes.
May I raise my white son to: be able to hear the anger + pain of people; understand the reality of being born straight into privilege; care about the importance of learning the true history and current systematic racism.
May I show my white son what it means to be a white person who loves Jesus and understands that His grace is big enough for us to sit in the truth that we play a piece of the evil that is white supremacy, and we get to choose to ignore it OR be a part of the bridge being led by people such as Dr Martin Luther King.
It is really only in experiencing the depths of Grace that we can sit in the Truth of our very selves and our history.
Dr Martin Luther King, you were a father, a husband, a citizen, a criminal. You were a brother and a friend. You were vilified and opposed at every turn during your time— as often as not, by well-intended citizens just like us.
—Preemptive Love Coalition
May we honor you as we march forward into 2019.