Open the Window: Listen, Ask

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 3-4 weeks asking myself two questions that I received from the Black Lives of UU:

How does living in a white centered world affect your humanity?

What works about the white supremacy system that is in place for you?

Here’s another reflection that has come out of that consideration.

I do better to listen than to speak, to ask questions than to make statements. The white supremacy system that is in place at all levels of our society is not an area where I feel competent, and I find that I am opened up, enabled to see and hear it more clearly when I ask questions particularly of People of Color.  Genuine questions.  Questions that I have allowed to move through my heart, first.

The political comedian, W. Kamau Bell,  tells how his daughter who has big, beautiful natural hair came home from school to say that she no longer wanted to wear her hair out because white children felt that they could just walk up and touch her hair whenever they wanted to.

Ta Nahesi Coates talks about the breaking the body and says this:
I believed, and still do, that our bodies are our selves, that my soul is the voltage conducted through neurons and nerves, and that my spirit is my flesh.
If our bodies are ourselves and others feel like they have free access to my body . . . then aren’t they saying that they own me?

I have colleagues and friends who are People of Color whom I admire and respect. I have taken my questions, turned for a while in my heart and mind, to them. They are generous with me. They are patient with my ignorance. And they are brutal with the details because what they have been through is often brutal. They do not coddle me by sanitizing their stories.

The white supremacy system is killing us–all of us and it keeps many of us ignorant, blind and deaf to what it is doing.  Over a year ago during an adult Religious Exploration session, I heard Nathalie Bigord offer this about understanding the BLM title–sometimes it helps to say “Black lives matter, too.”  That little word, too, should be unnecessary. But I’ve seen white complainers go silent when it was added.  Oh.

Perhaps we have to say to ourselves this:  white people, white supremacy is killing us, too.  White supremacy is our problem, too.  White people, this matters to us, too.  

Bob Patrick

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