- You are a white person who realizes that everyone else in the restaurant is black?
- Your white child has been assigned to a black teacher?
- You read that white people will become the majority minority in the next five years?
Why do these things make us uncomfortable – if they do?
I write this from the CoInSpire Conference at Montreat, NC and the hope this week is that we will be uncomfortable together talking about race.
It’s not everybody’s thing.
Most people spend time seeking comfort: a good mattress, a home-cooked meal, a cozy home, a relaxing vacation. This conference is not like that. A large group of humans have paid good money to have our souls disrupted.
What makes you uncomfortable and why?
I was once asked if we (in the Presbytery Office) could put a letter “B” beside African-Americans on the supply preacher list because “we accidentally invited a black woman to preach when our pastor was on vacation and she was very uncomfortable being the only black person in worship.” (Right. The preacher was uncomfortable.)
[Note: We have not added “B”s to the supply preacher list.]
The uncomfortable truth about our nation is that white people enslaved black people for almost 250 years. Those enslaved people from Africa built everything from The White House to the fortunes of many white families throughout the southern states and beyond. The uncomfortable truth is that 4743 human beings were lynched between 1882-1968 in the United States of American. The uncomfortable truth is that brown and black people are disproportionately more likely to be incarcerated in this country than white people. The uncomfortable truth is that – when many Americans picture criminals in their minds – they picture brown and black people. The truth is that our current government privileges white immigrants over brown and black immigrants.
Talking about racism makes us uncomfortable and we often change the subject to relieve ourselves of that discomfort. This week a large group of us are staying on topic even if it’s uncomfortable for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus.
Traci Blackmon is our preacher for the week and she has warned us. It’s a conversation that every church needs to have if we are serious about faithfully following Jesus. But it’s not an easy conversation.
Image from a 2014 CNN article by John Blake: When You’re the Only White Person in the Room.