There are four times in my life when I’ve felt gutted. I’ve felt desperately empty and lost and alone in the world – except for God. I’m grateful that I also felt God’s presence during those times of utter brokenness.
Consider other things that are “gutted”:
- Fish (gutted of their insides)
- Organizations (gutted of their staffs for financial or political reasons)
- A home being remodeled (gutted of its walls)
This week at the CoInspire Conference (the name comes from “conspiring” and “inspiring“) the idea is to Liberate Imagination and Eviscerate Racism. Liberating imagination sounds lovely and creative. Eviscerating racism sounds violent and scary.
During one of the talks yesterday with three scholars on a panel (the gifted Jen Harvey, Raj Nadella, and Lisa Dellinger) one of them noted that . . .
(When trying to be anti-racist) there’s a difference between welcoming and including people who don’t look like we do and eviscerating what we hate.
We tend to address the symptoms of racism rather than destroying the root causes of racism, mostly because we don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable. (See yesterday’s post.) But what’s needed is a total gutting of racist systems. And that’s probably not going to feel lovely and creative. It sounds violent and scary.
The uncomfortable truth is that countless People of Color have indeed been eviscerated throughout our nation’s history. Lisa Dellinger who is Chicksaw and Mexican American shared that she was six years old when she realized that – as a Native American female – she had a “killable body.” At age six she was already aware of Native American women whose bodies had been so brutally violated that she was afraid for her mother and later for herself.
If we read eye witness accounts of Native American massacres like Sand Creek it’s clear that the troops literally eviscerated the Cheyenne and Arapaho people – even taking their body parts as souvenirs.
On slave ships, in plantation homes, on lynching trees African and African-American people were bodily destroyed. Especially if we read accounts of enslaved people who tried to run away or Jim Crow era Black and Brown people many were tortured and hanged and mutilated as if God had not created them.
The white supremacy that continues today will not be eliminated without total evisceration of racist systems. And many White people aren’t even aware that there’s a problem. But our nation’s housing, health care, and education issues are all a result of the white supremacy that is in our roots.
We need to eviscerate the roots.
This might sound like a scary/radical post coming from a nice White Church Lady. But we who consider ourselves to be Jesus Followers are not actually following Jesus if we aren’t willing to – at least – talk about racial injustice in our communities.
As Dr. Nadella said yesterday, “If we only point to Charlottesville and El Paso, we are setting a high bar for what qualifies as racism. The microaggressions happening in our own communities and in our own homes and in our own offices are what perpetuate racism.”
I close with one example of a microaggression:
My friend A and I were having dinner together last month in a restaurant. I arrived early to read my book and order a glass of wine and I told the restaurant’s host that my friend A would be joining me. I texted her to tell her I already got a table.
When A arrived she told the host that she was meeting her friend, and the host said, “There’s nobody here waiting for you.” She said that she knew I was waiting for her because I had texted her that I already had a table. He insisted that “Nope. There is nobody here waiting for you.” And then she said, “I’ll just check for myself.” And of course, I was right there in the dining room waiting for her. A is Black and I am White, and apparently the host couldn’t imagine that we would be eating dinner together.
I have hundreds of examples of microaggressions like this. My friends who are People of Color have thousands of examples.
We need to gut racism. And now that we know this, what will we do about it? The least we can do is talk about it.
Image of a gutted fish.