And I am ashamed and I am grateful to be at a place I can finally admit it out loud to myself, God, friends, and anyone who reads this without fear of judgment.
As with anything that holds us back in life, on the other side of this admittance has been freedom, love, and peace.
I am not actively racist. In fact, I have several friends and loved ones of color I care for deeply, including my biracial godson.
I will not forget the day I realized the seeds of racism were still inside my heart and mind. When my friend Andre Wright was kind enough to have a conversation with me about the movement he co-founded called Humanize My Hoodie, he asked me, “If a white man and a black man were walking on opposite sides of the street with their hoods up, which side would you choose?” I felt ashamed that my gut reaction was to choose the white man’s side.
I’ve reflected on that a lot since our conversation and more these last few days after the murder of George Floyd. I chose that answer not because I am actively racist, but because I have racist tendencies as a result of my privilege and limited exposure to black people. That is on me to fix. It is my personal responsibility to actively seek out the history, stories, and connections with people of color. It is my responsibility to listen to them, lift up their voices, and support them in efforts they lead.
It is also my responsibility to dig deep into the dark places of my heart and mind to continue to bring racist thoughts and feelings into the light. I have been conditioned because of my experiences to see the world a certain way. Now that I know my worldview is not THE worldview, I have to work to unravel the systems and stories that have given me this privilege and these racist thoughts and feelings.
While most would assume that questioning all that you have come to know and believe as truth would be scary, I have found it the opposite. This has been freeing. I have let go of the idea that I know anything for sure and made space for Truth which is always rooted in Love and Light.
As I started to live and lead from a place of love and curiosity, my eyes have been opened to just how broken we are as a human race and how oppressive and the systems in which we operate really are.
I want to invite you into this never ending journey. We all have work to do. Every single one of us. It is hard work to unravel it all and honor the place that teacher Wayne Dyer told us will give us freedom: “Be open to everything and attached to nothing.” From that place we change ourselves and when we change ourselves we can change the world.
Open your mind. Open your heart. Let your eyes be opened, and when you’re ready, use your voice.
The latest lesson I have learned in my own racism came yesterday in a conversation with my friends Courtney and Brooke. Courtney shared this question from her black friend, “If you’re in a coffee shop with my 9 year old black son and a white man makes a racist comment, do you tell my son to ignore him or do you tell the bigot to apologize?”
Again, hard lesson…I have been staying silent for too long. We have to bravely and lovingly start to quiet the voices of the oppressors. We have to stand up in solidarity and help them see that they have an alternative choice to hate, and we will no longer tolerate words and actions that are not rooted in love. May God grant us all the courage to stop going along to get along and start standing up with respect for what is right.