Racism: A Conversation and Commitment that must Continue

Blog by Rosie Blackburn, OPA and Marybeth Irvine, OPA
Blog by Marybeth Irvine, OPA and Rosie Blackburn, OPA

Recently, I was listening to an interview on the radio. One guest commented he was tired of everything being about race.

I immediately thought – that is simply a white privilege statement.  I ask myself where a statement of that nature might originate, especially, in light of the very visible and troubling events of this past year.

A few ideas come to mind: fear of losing the power and many privileges that are bestowed to white folks; lack of awareness of or indifference to the enormous prejudices and challenges to which people of color have been subjected since our country’s formation; wanting peace at all costs; being swept up by extremist ideologies; “racism fatigue”… the list could go on.

Everyone in this country, as well as around the world, is aware of the vicious attack on our Capitol on January 6, 2021. It was a glaring example of the deep-seated racial bias in our country. Yes, as reported all over our country, had those rioters and intruders been black or brown-skinned, we would have witnessed a massacre on our Capitol steps.  In the year 2021.  A massacre.  In the land of the free.

The young man in the interview said he just wanted us all to be Americans and not focus on white or black or brown.  It’s really not that simple.  How do we live with our persecuted brothers and sisters as equal Americans, as members of one family of God?    Racial injustice is a systemic problem, but addressing its roots begins with each individual.  Positive changes are possible when we place our energies into reading and listening and engaging in honest conversations, into educating ourselves, into challenging ourselves. It will take much “unlearning,” much soul-searching, a deep openness and commitment, and a willingness to stay in the uncomfortableness that will arise from our explorations and work.

This is our work to do.  It is hard work, but it is necessary work for the survival of us all, our country, our world.  To shift our responsibilities to our brothers and sisters of color is to step right back into our houses of white privilege.

There are so many important questions to take on this journey of enlightenment:

Will we stay focused?

Will we look at our own bias, privilege, and judgements through the lens of truth?

What might I be able to see, now that I know?

Will we show up, go deeper, and choose peace and equality for all life?

Honestly, I also tire of the focus on racism. I want to put on my rose-colored glasses and hope for a miracle.

I am tired of being uncomfortable.  I want to sing Kumbaya, numb my senses, and pretend.

And then I hear that Divine voice that says, ‘Take care of what is yours to do, take care of your small part of Mother Earth, keep listening, keep studying, keep your eyes open, keep looking into your heart and soul, keep having hard conversations, keep working for peace and justice.’

We are called to live love, to be peace, for every human being.  Our commitment must continue.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog