The Ready Room: A Better Brother–2

If you have been following this series, you know that I am reflecting on this article that observes some data about  how white people act in relation to people of color, largely without knowing it.  I left yesterday with the question of how I can be a better brother in this human family.  Seeing myself as a brother in this one human family helps me cut through the difficulties inherent in being white in this culture at this time.  To call myself a brother in this human family wakes me up out of my ignorance.  It reminds me that I have one family to invest in.  It clarifies for me that there is no one that is not a part of my family.

Kali Holloway, the writer of the referenced article, closes with this reflection:

“Racism is comfortable and easy; it helps us make quick, baseless decisions without the taxing act of thinking. The next time you catch yourself having a racist thought or feeling, try not brushing it off. Ask yourself where it came from, what it means and how you can unpack it. Because if the evidence above suggests anything, it’s that critical self-examination is our only hope of moving the needle at all on this thing. Stop imagining that being racist is something that only other people do, and start looking closely at your own beliefs.”

I want to share her hope–that white people who are willing to engage themselves and their interior lives will help turn this deadly dynamic around.  I think, though, that we have more work to do in addition to inner, self reflection.  I think we have to be willing to talk to each other, as white people, who own our problems.  I write this knowing that many of the people who read these devotions are not white.  I hope as you read, you will hold those of us who are white in your hearts, that we can find the needed courage (“courage” from the Latin and French, “doing the heart”).

I think we can stand to ask each other some powerful questions when we are aware that we or other white people in our company are acting out some of these racist actions:

1. In this situation, what is it that we don’t know about the people in question?

2. Are we willing to invest in the people involved here?  Why?  why not?  What if they were white?  Would we feel differently (and can we pause long enough to get past our knee jerk reaction that wants to shout–of course not!)?

3. Can we try and see the people involved here as members of our family?  Can we see ourselves as members of their family?

4.  How can we be better brothers and sisters in this human family?

Bob Patrick

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