The Ready Room: A Better Brother–1

I want to be a better brother in this human family.  The study I posted yesterday identifying ten ways that white people are more racist than we realize is disturbing to read, regardless of one’s ethnicity or skin tone.  As I read through the ten sets of data, I feel like I hear some common threads or some common missing threads, if you will.  In each of the ten ways that white people indicate that we are more racist than we realize:

1. The actions arise out of ignorance–what we don’t realize about ourselves and others.

2. The actions indicate what/who we are willing and unwilling to invest time in.

3. The actions betray a sense of division and separation–that there are some people that we feel that we belong to and others to whom we do not.  This disconnect affects our empathy, our sense of right and wrong, and our sense of social consequences for right and wrong.  In other words, an unconscious sense of disconnection between us and people who are not white tends to mold our whole approach to ethics and morality.  We have and do continue, even in ignorance and maybe because of it, to live out a morality and ethic that cause serious harm to those whom we do not perceive to be “among us.”

I have worked in ministry in two different church organizations.  I have worked in education in two States in both public and private schools.  I have seen these issues manifested in all of those organizations over 33 years.  One of my biggest frustrations besides my own discoveries of racist attitudes and reactions rising up inside of my own heart is that routinely, my white brothers and sisters do not want to talk about these issues.  They are routinely sure that they are not racist in any way, and they take quick offense at any attempt to examine the possibilities that we might be.

I know that as a white man in this culture at this time in history that my ignorance, who and what I am willing to invest my time in, and how and to whom I see myself connected run me whether I am aware of these things or not.  I want to be a better brother in this human family, and that is how I have decided to try and deal with my own racism.  I want to be a better brother in this human family.  I belong to one family.

Tomorrow, I want to explore what being a better brother in this human family might mean.

Bob Patrick

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