Category Archives: thoughts

An awkward white response to Charleston

I sit here like I think a lot of white people do, horrified, but still afraid to say much of anything. My words are awkward, my knowledge limited, my worldview tainted, well, white.

What happened in Charleston was horrible. Terror. Racism. Evil. Committed by a person who had some sinister and horrible beliefs that were unfounded and were wrong. There aren’t enough words to describe how wrong it was, to walk into a black church and tell the congregants they were needed to be killed because they were black? How could this young man, in this day and age, believe the lie that black is subservient to white?

It was wrong. I hate that it happened.

Yet I am blown away by the responses of the victims family members when they faced the killer in court.

“We forgive you.”
“We have no room for hate so we must forgive.”
“Take this opportunity to repent.”
“We pray for your soul.”

It pains me to know that people who exemplified Christ in life and in death were murdered. What kind of faith do these families have that their response is one of love? I, too, am a follower of Jesus, but I do not think I would have had my wits about me to forgive my kin’s killer publicly so soon. Eventually that would be my goal- to forgive- but I know me, and I know to would take me a while to get there.

I read the Beatitudes this morning… and I paused at verse 3- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”

Are not the poor in spirit those who were humbled, marginalized, oppressed? They turned to the Lord for their strength. Could the families in Charleston’s immediate response of obedience- to forgive and to pray for their enemy, the one who took the life of their family member- could that response be possible if they were not a part of the black community? A community who’s history of being oppressed, or being marginalized, but of having great hope in the Lord gave them opportunity to practice forgiveness and grace over and over and over in everyday life. Is this learned behavior passed down from generation to generation to let go and let God? Do white people, as a whole, even white Christians, practice forgiveness and grace a fraction as much as these humble and heartbroken families in Charleston?

I don’t like to talk about race or racism because I am painfully aware of how ignorant I am in how racism plays out in everyday life across our country, or even my own town. I confess that I just assume since I am not racist and that I teach my children that we are all of equal value regardless of skin color, nationality, ethnicity, etc., that the whole situation is not my problem. I guess I was wrong. This is a problem we all have to own.

I don’t have a lot of friends, yes I have a couple hundred on Facebook, but seriously, there are only a couple who are really my close friends that I actually see in real life or communicate with beyond “likes” and “shares.” They are white. I have a long distance friend who moved away who’s husband is black and they have two children, and I have a dear old friend from my nannying days who is black who also lives hundreds of miles away. My kids go to school in a suburb where there are many nationalities, and there are one or two kids in their classes that are black. I had a few friends from my track team in high school that are black too, but in my high school life seemed rather segregated. It was weird, I would approach a friend on the “black wall” in the quad, and I felt like I was getting the evil eye from everyone else there, I thought they were thinking “Whats this white girl doing over here?” Maybe I was wrong, maybe they weren’t thinking that at all.

I’m sheltered. I get it. I know very little about what it means to be black, or African American, heck I don’t even know what these friends’ preferences are in discussing their race. I don’t discuss their race. They are just friends to me, I don’t think about their race or their children’s race or if they get pulled over more often, thus my inaccurate belief that this isn’t my problem. I try to contact them when crazy stuff like this happens, like Freddie Gray, like Michael Brown, because I don’t WANT to be ignorant, I want to hear from someone who knows.

Despite my awkwardness in asking about the elephant in the room, I always think that it’s better to say something with a heart of love than to remain silent. I don’t want to read the news and the pundits and the bloggers, I want to hear from real flesh and blood people that I know and love. Firsthand accounts are always so much more powerful and an actual conversation so much more productive in creating understanding.

I hope we all have the courage and grace to have these kinds of conversations with other races in our communities. We can’t keep pretending this isn’t our problem.

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Why I read and watch things three years late

A little while back on an evening where bedtime for our kids crept well past nine, we actually sat down on the couch and watched tv, you know, instead of flurrying around getting ready for the next day’s events and promptly passing out. Keith surfed the channels and stopped at msnbc, which was airing a documentary on trafficked teens in Detroit.

I was amazed. I had heard and read a little about trafficking and modern day slavery in the US, but I’ve never seen a whole show about it. Captivating. Heartbreaking. Unbelievable. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening to these girls.

Naturally, I tweeted about it, to which my smart Alec and ridiculously well aware, read, written and published little brother responds… @danamarie262 Sis… That aired originally three years ago.

Whoops.

We had a little playful twitter banter on how the only current events I know of are who has used the potty properly that day and that was that.

It’s true. I live in a bubble. I don’t watch the news hardly ever because I have three small children with me every second of the day. The things on the news are hardly appropriate for children to watch. Bombings, scandals, beheadings, all sorts of things that are horrific for me, let alone our seven, five and two year old. So the tv stays off.

The books I read early on in parenting were those that would help me to SURVIVE sleepless nights, and decidedly not go-change-the-world books.

The books I read now are about three to seven years past publication date. Sorta current, right? UnChristian, The Next Christians, Interrupted, Love Does, to name my most recent reads that do not fall into the parenting category. Because let’s face it, I’m a mom and that’s my biggest job- to make sure I am not screwing up my kids, to teach them that God loves them even though their mom might have screwed up (ok, ok I probably will fail them somehow, using the word “might” is too optimistic) and, if possible, set up these little ones for some sort of success in life. Thus, parenting books will likely always have a solid place on my nightstand.

I suppose it is fair to say I am isolated from many world events. I just don’t have the time to keep up with everything. I try my best, I read when I can, I read opposing viewpoints when possible… But let’s face it- I have hardly any time to myself! It’s impossible to be amazing at everything all the time, so I just settle into mediocrity at a bunch of things.

I think what I struggle with lately is this notion of productivity above all else. There’s this call to arms to find your passion, your calling, go, be, do, lots of things! But guess what? I have three children and no free daycare and I kinda like being around my kids all the time anyways. The only thing I’m going and being and doing is being a wife and mom. And volunteer for my kids school. And volunteer in the church nursery. And a bunch of other things that will never put my name in print.

So I plug along. And read. Three years late. But I’m still reading. Still thinking. Still asking questions. Still struggling for answers.

I suppose that’s the best I can do.

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