When we talk about race and racism, we sometimes ignore white privilege. We talk about institutional racism, about what needs to change in society. We talk about our internalized fears, prejudices, and stereotypes of other cultures. What about our white privilege?
I have asked that question in many different places. People can deny it at many different levels.
I have had poorer white people say that because they are poor they do not exercise white privilege. I have had white queer friends say that they are not privileged because of their queer status. The list goes on and on.
As white people, we have White Privilege (whether we are conscious of it or not) just by being born white. It is given to us because of the color of our skin. It is a product of a culture that is steeped in white supremacy. Whether we acknowledge it, own it, understand it, or ignore it, we have privilege. Even if we experience oppression for some other reason in our life (being queer, a woman, poor) we still have white privilege.
That is something we need to understand.
I can drive above the speed limit through Wayne, PA and not get pulled over for speeding. That is white privilege.
I can drive alone across the South to NM and not worry that I will be harmed because of the color of my skin. That is white privilege.
I do not have to provide ID when I go to vote in a new polling place. My signature is enough. That is white privilege.
When I’m walking down the street, people do not cross the street before passing me. That is white privilege.
When I’m shopping in a store, the salespeople are not tracking my movements. That is white privilege.
When I call my Representatives and Senators to speak out about my opinions, I am treated respectfully. That is white privilege.
I can stop and ask for directions without fearing for my life. That is white privilege.
When I walk into a church, I am fully welcomed. That is white privilege.
Did that last one make you feel uncomfortable? Were you thinking, all are welcome when they come to worship here at UCCEG?
What are we doing to dismantle racism in our congregation and community?
How are we widening our tents to incorporate non-white worship styles so that when a worshipper of color comes through our doors there is some aspect of worship that they can see and experience as part of them?
What color are the images that we use to represent the Sacred? What color is Jesus in our artwork? Do we have black and brown representation in our Iconography?
What educational programming are we offering to our congregation to continue the work of undoing racism within ourselves, within our community of faith, within our region?
If we truly desire to be a place of welcome for our BIPOC brothers and sisters, then I invite us to explore what we need to change to be fully welcoming. I invite us to covenant to actively do the work of undoing racism, of learning how to be anti-racist allies in this area.