CONFESSIONS OF A WHITE MALE LEADER
I am a white male evangelical Christian leader.
Though I don’t usually think of myself in those terms, I am learning that others see me as representative of the dominant power group in our culture. When I am silent about issues that affect people in the minority, it can be taken by those who don’t know me as agreement with the dominant group. Worse than that, my friends in the minority can feel like I don’t have their back. They are left to fend for themselves yet again.
To my black friends: Please forgive me. I didn’t see it.
Thinking I was colorblind and that racism wasn’t my issue, I was actually living in denial. Instead of seeing myself as white and others as black, I saw us all as the same. That seemed to me like the opposite of racism. Hearing “Black Lives Matter” sounded racist to me. “All lives matter” seemed less so.
Every human being is created in the image of God. That’s what I believed and what I still believe. However, lumping humanity into one group and saying “all lives matter” is exactly what perpetuates the problem. It doesn’t recognize the different experience it is to be in the minority.
Learning to See
It is easy to assume that the way I see the world is the way it actually is. If I forget that I am white, I don’t notice the assumptions shaped by my experience of life as a white guy. When I ignore your blackness, I am not considering how your experience of the world has told you another story. Ignoring our differences is not the answer, learning from them is. Those differences are what make us each unique. They are perspectives we have to offer one another.
Pretending we are the same doesn’t help. Seeing each other does. Hearing each other is the best thing we can do. Well, I see you friends. I hear you. And I will have your back from here on out.