Merely speaking about this incident and mentioning racism resulted in the common backlash accusation of playing this mythical item. It is used over and over again by some white people instead of engaging in dialogue through sharing and listening, the choice is made to stigmatize and scapegoat those that disagree that America is mostly a colorblind post-racial nation. There are certain scripts that the white majority learns and rehearses through subtle socialization in dominant culture. Rather than doing the hard work of careful in-depth investigation of the matter, quick cliché dismissals are used to uphold the status quo. The status quo is silence about racism other than pointing out the overt cases, as well as getting into extensive conversation about reverse racism. While I have often gotten frustrated by these little remarks that dismiss black experiences without doing the hard work of listening and wrestling with another perspective, I decided that from now on I was going to “play along” with their game.
Advent is a time to keep watch for the unexpected comings of God, to prepare our own hearts to make room for the Blessed One, and to be ourselves signs to the world around us of divine compassion and justice.
In a month that is already far too busy and rushed, these ten general practices are not offered as one more to-do list to work through, but as ways to slow down, take a breath, pay attention, and make room in our lives for the birth of the Holy.
This summer, I went to visit novelist Kent Haruf at his house in Salida, Colorado, to talk about writing and life and death. Not quite a year before, Haruf had been diagnosed with a terminal lung disease. He was in hospice care, and I had not known what to expect when he invited me to come.
Some children’s greatest fears live underneath their beds, and their parents have gotten up many a weary night and gone to their child’s bedroom, flashlight in hand, lifted the covers, shone the light on the dusty floor, and proved, once again, that there is no monster.
When I was a boy, I had a recurring dream about a giant, scowling, and mean-eyed lumberjack.
We have washed our hands as the war on drugs has overwhelmingly targeted black men. We have washed our hands as our justice system has given longer sentences to people of color. And then, when an innocent man dies, we keep scrubbing our fingers some more, as we blame the victim.