I am amazed at the comment sections of friends online posts around the recent and ever-growing list of (mostly prominent, white) leaders denouncing Donald Trump and defecting from his support camp.
Some of my Latinx friends are expressing disappointment that these defections didn’t come when Mr. Trump spewed hateful comments towards immigrants. A friend with impaired hearing told me how hurt she was that people brushed off when DT mocked reporter Serge Kovaleski. Likewise friends who identify with other groups, like African-Americans, the LGBTQI community, and the Muslim community (there are more!) and have also been victims of Donald Trump’s views and speech, are disappointed that these leaders did nothing, and even defended his hateful rhetoric, until they (or their wives and daughters) were personally affected by it in a recent video where, among other disgusting things, he is heard bragging about sexual violence towards women.
In my opinion, the sentiments my friends hold are legitimate and their disappointment is deserving of expression. Yet as a Woman of Color working in a predominantly white-male-led ministry context, I constantly receive messages that when I see someone finally come around and acknowledge an injustice (even one that has negatively affected me all of my life), I am to just be grateful, extend grace, and provide that ever-so-deserved pat on the back. As a pastor, I disagree with this expectation. It is incomplete love – and where I come from that is synonymous with love that is not genuine. Calling out indifference, blindness, or inaction toward an injustice is a form of loving people. A necessary way to pastor, even at the time of a change-of-heart. Pointing it out doesn’t negate my appreciation and even celebration for where my brother or sister has arrived. It doesn’t mean that I will not support nor be united with her against such hate or injustice. It just means that I steward my pastoral role to ensure that we are all observing and learning how these things happen, how we are blind to them, how we participate, and how They. Have. Always. Happened. The goal is to grow and learn and be better.
So to read the comment sections of FB posts and blog posts with lots of my white brothers and sisters upset over our surprise and wonder (read “what took you so long?”) only exposes the deep fragility that exists in the hearts of so many. We are learning that some we thought were woke…nope…they ‘sleep.
My first emotion is sadness over an inability to see or the denial of this fragility. Korean Airlines lied…it is NOT all about you. My second emotion is disgust in the expectation that we walk on eggshells and care for their feelings in the midst of our own turmoil, and when the white masses have long abandoned us through alignment with or silence in regards to such hate.
I’ve experienced this personally. I have asked friends to help. And some have, indeed, seen the injustice and used their voice and influence, some at great personal cost, to speak against the wrongs. I have been deeply grateful. And have experienced joy in their journey towards pursuing God’s justice. I have friends who have thanked me for being patient with them and for being willing to share my pain and teach in the midst of it. Our friendship has deepened in this process of learning and moving forward together. I have also seen those who have not helped. I have seen those who have paid lip-service to caring but have refused (even when asked directly) to use their platform to influence others. And it has hurt deeply. This happens frequently.
Expecting a disclaimer or a list of credits with your name in bold is unrealistic and self-centered. If you find yourself offended by a friend’s post because of this, you may want to take a moment before commenting. And think. And maybe pray.
Friends, let be grown-ups. Let’s acknowledge that we are not the first to be hurt. And that perhaps we weren’t paying attention because we didn’t have to. And if we have paid attention, and even acted, instead of saying “I’ve been speaking out all along and I’m offended that you are not thanking me or telling everyone that I am the exception,” let’s say things like, “you’re right, more of us should have been with you in this and we need to continue to shed light on and fight injustice together…I am now, and have been with you, sister.”
That’s love right there. The good and honest kind.
#politicaldisgust #letsbebetterpeople #fighthate #becauseJesus