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Thoughts on What I've Been Thinking...

  • Writer's pictureejrbnsn

Seven of These Things are not Like the “Other”

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

A few months ago, after the midterm elections I started meeting with a group of progressive white guys from my city, Dallas, TX. This group consists of 3 pastors, an academic and author, a civil rights attorney, an executive in an education reform non-profit, and a young local formerly incarcerated minister and activist.

No, these white guys didn’t ask me to come and share the secrets of undoing racism and the struggles of black folk. On the contrary I reached out to them after they responded to a Facebook post of mine concerning white men and the state of our country and their voting habits.

So, we’ve been talking -- they never know what I’m going to ask or if I’m going “let them have it” or “chastise them” -- but they DO know I’m going to talk about Race, and they ALSO know I’m going to ask about being white men. And yet, they still agree to come back, time, after time, after time. Go figure.

I spent close to 3 hours with these guys yesterday morning. This is the third time our crew has gotten together. The stories I heard and the vulnerability from these men -- These. White. Men -- were eye opening to say the least.

Yesterday morning, they shared with one another when they realized they were white. And I learned, even more, how insidious and diabolical Race is. Now, I won't share our private conversations, I will just say those who shared today allowed see that their realization of their own whiteness was not an experience of privilege necessarily, but one of exclusion.

That moment when they realized the world knew something they didn’t. They are “White”. And there are certain places, no matter how friendly you are, where “White” just ain’t welcome.

Now, I’m not writing this to create some false equivalence between the realities of whiteness and blackness, because let’s keep a full 💯 -- the consequences of them realizing their whiteness are far less severe then me realizing my blackness, and I appreciate that this reality is not lost on them.

But what I am saying is yesterday underscored for me ONCE AGAIN that this thing called “Race” was constructed to keep us apart. And while we must do MUCH work separately because the consequences of Race are still very real, the goal is not to remain apart. The ultimate goal is not to simply reform into better white people or claim our blackness over and against whiteness, though these are indeed very good and necessary steps, but the ultimate goal is and must ALWAYS be to evolve into more human humans.

As we reckon with and learn to love our full selves, we are able to recognize the ridiculous constructs that fight against true salvation; not the salvation that will get us to some final resting place in the sky, but the salvation that will allow us to declare what it truly means to be human and save us from these caricatures of ourselves.

I’m not saying we fixed racism, classism, patriarchy, White supremacy, or any other false construct, and I’m not even encouraging any one else to do this. Shit, it was 3 1/2 months ago before I could even conceive of putting myself in this situation.

All I'm saying is that we tried -- we are doing it. Breaking bread, talking, working through it, trying. And we made a deal to keep doing it. Who knows what will come of this, but I believe it can only be good. We’ll keep you updated.

Happy Black History Month!✊🏾

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