Perhaps the greatest evil in our country today is the silence of the larger crowd. I think of the communities I grew up in, the line of people I come from, the hard working salt-of-the-earth folk who came here because they were tired of being hunted down like animals. People who wanted to own land and live and pray in peace and thrive. People who stayed out of politics and voted on their knees.
While I am proud of my heritage, I am so ashamed in times like these of the color of my skin. As a white American, I know I am lumped into the same box as those who are trying to stir the country to radical hatred. Take it from a girl who has traveled the globe – the rest of the world views America as a Christian nation. While you and I both know that’s not the reality, it is very much the way we are perceived. The hatred, the headlines in the news and the scandals portrayed by Hollywood; these things have defined who we are to the rest of the world and the bad name we have made for ourselves is getting worse by the day.
White people of faith, the time for our silence if over. The expiration date on this silence is so ancient the toxic effects will kill us if we continue to sip from it. Have we forgotten that if one part of our body suffers, our whole body suffers?
The events in Charlottesville have crushed all of us because they have crushed a precious part of us. Our refusal personally and as a community to speak out against hate is a silent endorsement of the deeds done.
Even if we live in a white rural community that feels peaceful, we cannot assume these things do not affect us. There is someone near us who is shaking in fear, old scars ripped wide open while our pastors speak from their pulpits as if nothing has happened and the blood of the One we say we follow, lies fresh on the sidewalk. We speed down the road in a rush to get to the next place without fear of being pulled over. We dig in our purses for our phone as we enter a store, never thinking that if our skin were a different color we would be profiled and either followed the entire time or questioned. We feel only comfort, not fear when we pull on a hoodie to ward off the evening chill. We do so many things every day that many in our country can never do without fear of what will happen if they do.
It is time for us to speak up, speak out, and speak to. And I’m not talking about social media, though that has its place. In our safe white circles, we must speak up. Love is not silent, it is not safe. Find the oppressed in your area and speak to them, welcoming gently. And then listen. Have the heart to seek out the strangers and sit with them until they become your friends, your family. If we already have these friends, we could ask them how the events of the weekend in Charlottesville are affecting them. Ask them if they feel safe. Ask them what we can do. If they feel pain, we would be foolish to tell them that our lives matter too. This is not our moment. This is not the kind of speaking out that shushes people or assumes that we have the answers. It is a speaking out that listens…and learns.
If we do not speak, we are in danger of becoming part of the monster of hatred consuming and dividing this beautiful land…a body much different than the one that we claim to be a part of.
We must speak.
Lives depend on it.