Rachel Dolezal, Dylann Roof … and us

rachel roof

What does an impersonator of blackness have in common with a white supremacist?

Warped white responses to the racialized reality we live in. One rejected the white race card she was dealt and wrapped herself in an appropriated black life; the other rejected the humanity and right to life of black people.

White people, let’s not kid ourselves. Let’s not be distracted by psychological evaluation of these particular pathologies. Let’s wake up and realize racism is our problem, and we are only shades of denial away from this kind of crazy on the continuum that is white supremacist culture. Until we get a critical awareness of this reality and take responsibility for transforming it, these insanities will only continue, because they arise from a craziness embedded in our very soil, air, water, history.

I am too brokenhearted tonight to say more than that … I have written so many words, so many blogs, articles, books … and they have made so little difference.

I won’t stop; I’ll keep speaking whenever and wherever I can. But I have to confess, I have wearied of words, and rely on the real gestures I can and do make every day.

I make eye contact with, speak to, and respect every person of color I encounter in the hospital where I work and out in the world. I privilege the patients of color. I teach my fellow staff and chaplain students about social location and power in ministry, so that I can teach them about white privilege and how it warps us, as well as how to love through it and despite it.

I speak up in my white church, and offer myself as an educator. I will go anywhere and teach anyone the lessons I have learned about how to be an anti-racist Christian and how to move a church toward an anti-racist stance. And no, I don’t make money at that, because — as Andrea White said — we should not profit from oppression.

I have done my best to raise anti-racist kids, since I helped bring two more white people into the world — at the very least, they are race- and privilege-conscious. The stance they take will be up to them. I fuss with my loved ones and friends and hold my own stance — in a way that can be heard if possible, and if not, then annoyingly.

And none of it is enough, none of it, none of it. And I will keep on, with the little bit within my reach, over and over, every struggling day and every broken-hearted night.

I don’t let the fact that I can’t undo white supremacy keep me from committing each day to doing my part to dismantle a corner of it. I do use my personal pain to connect me to others who are OUTRAGED, FED UP, DONE with with deadliness of what racism does.

We can’t un-become white. We can’t win anything of lasting value through violence.

We can — and we must — change what whiteness has come to mean.

We can — and we must — change what whiteness does.

We can — and we must — change.

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2 Responses to Rachel Dolezal, Dylann Roof … and us

  1. Thank you for this. We desperately need more Christian allies in the fight against racism. God is using you mightily in this!

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