“It is not the responsibility of people of color to teach White people about history, about present realities, about systemic oppression, and racism. It is on us to learn.”
I sin more than I am even aware or like to admit, I’m awkward in many ways, I don’t have all the answers, and I haven’t arrived. (I don’t think there really is a point of arrival.) We are all on a journey, and since we are all at different places on this journey I wanted to share four things that might be helpful for a fellow White person in figuring out next steps in standing against injustices and standing with our brothers and sisters, neighbors, and friends of color.
These suggestions are by no means exhaustive or extensive. But they might help someone take a step. We all have steps to take to love our neighbors and to be part of the work of a God who hates injustice and stands with the marginalized and oppressed (Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8). The witness of the church and the lives of our brothers and sisters of color depend on it.
It might not sound like much. But it’s so very necessary. Take in the stories and experiences of people of color. Just listen. Sit in the discomfort. Listen through the times you want to say, “Yeah, but…” or “What about…” or “Not everyone…” or “Well I know…” or any other reactions that come up. There are endless opportunities to listen. Look through the lists of people you follow on social media. Who is represented? What voices do you take in?
Learn and Unlearn.
The history we’ve been taught in America has been White-centered. We have to do the work of learning actual history and unlearning the narratives so many of us in the West have been taught. It is not the responsibility of people of color to teach White people about history, about present realities, about systemic oppression, and racism. It is on us to learn. Check your bookshelves and podcast library. Who is represented? What narratives do you take in?
- Latasha Morrison Talks ‘Be the Bridge,’ Knowing History, and How Lament Leads to Justice
- Jemar Tisby Exposes US Christianity’s Racism From Columbus to Black Lives Matter
- National Antiracist Book Festival Highlights Christian Leaders Advancing Racial Justice
We have lost the holy act of lamenting in our Western culture. We don’t weep with those who weep without first checking the facts and scrutinizing. But we are called to mourn and weep when others do. We need to admit and confess the sins of our ancestors, and confess our own unconscious biases. We need to pray for our eyes to be opened to injustice, to how systems affect others, to have compassion.
Love and Support Tangibly.
Our solidarity must lead to tangible support. Awareness must lead to action. Support, give, show up for Black-owned businesses, ministries with Black leadership, conferences that have ethnically diverse representation in their speaker lineup. Use your position, power, privilege, and place to bring about justice and to raise up the voices of people of color.
Editor’s note: This article was adapted from the author’s May 14, 2020 Instagram post. View a similar post by the author related to Black History Month.