If the news in America has flashed across your screen in any manner, then you know that ignorance and white supremacy culture are on full display. It’s easy to name it, scoff at it, recognize it as damaging, and know—or think, one is on the right side of history. But, as a white person, this time demands my self-reflection. As much as I can name myself as someone who is not a participant in what is happening at the Capitol, the fact is that I have far more in common with those participants than I care to consider.
Many of us are saying “if they were Black…” but that fails to recognize that they are white and they are our (white people) problem. To examine what is happening is to see the blatant display of whiteness, white supremacy, and white privilege. I am a white person. Perhaps you are, too. This is our problem.
You might be thinking, like myself, that “they’re not like me,” or “I’m not like them,” because I didn’t vote for Trump or I don’t agree with what’s happening… but what are we doing? It’s not enough to be against something that is threatening lives, justice, and collective liberation—what are we actively doing in favor of those things? How are we actively protecting and caring for those whose lives are under direct threat? How are we actively protecting our democracy?
It’s moments like today when I confront the “white liberal” in myself. The one who “sees ‘both sides’ of the issue and shies away from ‘extremism’ in any form.” In Black Theology & Black Power, James Cone goes on to write that this liberal “wants to change the heart of the racist without ceasing to be his friend; he wants progress without conflict… He wants change without risk, victory without blood.”
Similarly, over 50 years ago, MLK warned us that “The white liberal must escalate his support for racial justice rather than de-escalate it…. The need for commitment is greater today than ever.”
Denouncing is no longer enough. What is our active participation against the things which perpetuate white supremacy culture?What is our active participation in ensuring justice and liberation in our lifetimes? What is our daily ongoing active-work against the kinds of things that are taking place today?