We do not see things as they are.
We see them as we are.
— Rabbi Shemuel ben Nachmani
Take a look at this well-known picture:
The status quo was that whites were superior.
Therefore, the blacks had to engage business elsewhere; use separate water fountains, restrooms; sit at the back of busses, etc.
In a overly too simplistic nutshell — the Civil Rights movement was trying to disrupt the status quo of dehumanization and daring to declare that all people — all — are equal, as stated in our Declaration of Independence (which ironically didn’t mean “all” when it was written).
And the response?
More hatred; more vile; more anger from those who wanted to keep the status quo of segregation.
Status quo is always kept by those in power — those that benefit from the way things are.
It’s important to note (and I’ve said it before):
When people of privilege and power are confronted with the idea of equality for all, they are the ones who think they’re being oppressed; that they have to give up too much. Which is never true.
I’ve been wrestling with a post about race that came out to be over 3500 words.
Instead of posting it all at once, I decided to break them up into parts and post my experiences and reflections re: race.
It’s funny when I bring up the topic of race.
Generally, the people that get frustrated/annoyed/upset are the white folks; people who for the most part have never faced racism on either macro/micro level.
And when we — persons of color — bring up issues of race and racism in the workplace or the church: we’re the ones disrupting the peace; we’re the ones overreacting; we’re the ones thats should try our best to fit in (read: be white). But I’ll dive into that later.
Recently, I was talking about the Civil Rights movement with someone and they mentioned, we’ve come so far.
And I asked, “but have we really…?”
Which apparently wasn’t the right response.
There was a recent video of a woman yelling at a Hispanic man, calling him “Rapist” among other things.
Apocalypse means less of the end of the world, but more of revealing; unveiling; uncovering — at least it is when we’re talking about biblical texts.
Recent events have been apocalyptic for many of us — meaning that it’s unveiled; revealed; uncovered the racism that never went away, but was always there, simmering on the surface.
Have you ever done something or said something in the moment of intense anger only to immediately regret afterwards?
We often explain our apology by saying something like, “I just don’t know what got into me.”
But that’s always been a false statement.
Nothing got into us.
Something escaped from within us.
It’ll be more honest to say, “I don’t know how I let that get out of me” (as if it was some sort of uncontrollable bodily function).
Jesus knew that.
But what goes out of the mouth comes from the heart. And that’s what contaminates a person in God’s sight. Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adultery, sexual sins, thefts, false testimonies, and insults. (Matthew 18:18-19 CEB)
For some, it may seem like the racism that we believed to have died and gone away came back out of nowhere.
But for the rest of us, we’ve known it was always there. Just that now, the racism has been given permission and a lighted path to crawl out from underneath the surface and live freely in the open.
Go look at that picture again from 1963 at the Woolworth in Mississippi.
How much progress have we made? Especially in the recent years?
The more things change, the more they stay the same.