I recently shared a post on my social media accounts that supported “Loving Day” – a commemoration of the day the Supreme Court struck down state bans against interracial marriage. It went something like this…

1967… that’s only 55 years ago. My parents were teens. They were raised in homes that taught them interracial marriages were against God’s will.

Culture can teach us that something is fact… that this is “just the way it is.” But that doesn’t mean the cultural program is right.

Grateful for the trailblazers who fought the status quo then and for those who continue to reject the damaging programs now.

May we continue to progress past old cultural rules and paradigms that undermine others’ dignity and humanity.

Notice that I didn’t call anyone names or label them as bad people.

I simply recognized that within my parents’ time the surrounding culture influencing their minds and ideals was one of inequality and racism.

That kind of blows my mind.

It makes some of these things that “happened in the past” not so in the past.

And if you look even deeper, my grandparents were raised within a Christian religion that reaffirmed the same thing.

They didn’t just make this shit up.

It was TAUGHT to them by ecclesiastical leaders who leaned on ancient scripture as evidence and by parents influenced by their time.

But I didn’t say any of that in my post.

I didn’t draw lines and label some people bad and some people good.

I only reflected on the power of culture to shape our ideologies and realities EVEN WHEN that cultural programming is problematic or untrue.

I celebrated those who saw the bullshit and worked to end it.

And those who keep showing up today to debunk culture and call us to something better.

That’s it.

And yet, one of my relatives slid into my DMs to decry my post as false, blame any racism on the in-laws’ side of the family, and remind me that So-and-So had a Black friend growing up.

At two different times in their message they wrote, “X was NOT raised that way.”

I wondered, for a long time, at the fire in their response.

Why so angry? Why so defensive? Why bring up someone specific when I didn’t mention anyone but my parents, grandparents, and culture?

I believe it’s because we (as the white collective) often interpret an acknowledgment of racism as an attack of hate.

If I acknowledge that racism exists in my family or religion or political system or school, then somehow I’m saying “these are bad people and worthy of our hate!”

Before my work in ON THE MATTER OF RACE, I might have thought the same thing.

“My church can’t be racist! Only people of the KKK and the deep south are racist. So if my church is racist, then I am the same as the KKK!”

And we absolutely CAN NOT allow that.

So we fight, we defend, we excuse, we hide.

Anything to keep from facing the DISCOMFORT that our culture is upholding ideologies that undermine the humanity and dignity of others.

We’d rather attack and discredit the messenger than challenge the paradigm.

But here’s the truth…

An attack on culture is not an attack on the individual (unless that’s a hill you’re willing to die on).

Shining light on the unconscious biases we’re holding onto doesn’t automatically make us bad people.

Holding onto those biases once made aware of them, though, does.

But shining the light? Nope.
Acknowledging the bad programming exists? Nope.
Challenging the paradigm? Not even in the slightest.

That’s what grace is all about.

It’s about being able to acknowledge our weaknesses and mistakes and choosing to be and do better going forward.

It’s a change in perspective about ourselves, our Creator, and others.

So instead of jumping to the defense when we find our worldview challenged, lean into grace.

When we do, we rob shame of its power.

I am not ashamed to own that I am a racist.

How could I not be?

With a religion that condemned interracial marriages and withheld blessings from its Black members until after the Civil Rights Movement? With a family that taught me I was more righteous in Heaven because I was born white, in America, and a member of the church? With relatives that liked to tell Black jokes and had no issues using the “n” word in private? In communities and schools that were 99% white and idolized white history while skimming over the atrocities of colonization?

Racism, white supremacy, and the unconscious biases connected to both were ingrained into my formative years.

Right between, “God loves ALL his children” and “We come from good stock.”

And in owning that it exists inside me, I am empowered to identify and remove it.

So yeah… I am a racist…

Learning to be and do better…

Worthy of my own grace and love…

And willing to do whatever it takes to make sure I leave this world better than it found me.

Reflections of Racism is my uncomfortable look in the mirror to identify the roots of racism and white supremacy still active in my life. I don’t have all the answers. I’m not standing as a voice for anyone but me. I’m simply sharing my inner monologue in hopes that my failures, faults, missteps, and mistakes can help someone else see, challenge, and change the white supremacist ideologies influencing their world too.

White supremacy isn’t a system I chose; it was one I was born into. But you better believe I’m gonna do everything in my power to choose out, burn it down, and build something better in the ashes.

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