Across the country tonight voices within the white community are soul searching, examining their privileges, and making connections to violence done to black and brown bodies.
Tim Wise, an anti-racist author and educator, writes:
Nice is the enemy of justice because to raise one’s voice against oppression is to be instantly pegged as not nice, as disruptive, as unruly, as dangerous. To block traffic, or interfere with the all-important Christmas tree lighting in Rockefeller Center is not nice. To interrupt the symphony orchestra in St. Louis, or the drunken revelry of nice white baseball fans at a Cardinals game is not nice. To signify sympathy for a murdered young man in Ferguson, with even a gesture as simple as raising one’s hands as you come out of the tunnel before the football game is not nice. It is, to some—who would rather just watch black men entertain them with a few nice interceptions—worthy of punishment, or professional discipline. How dare they, say the nice white people who paid good money to see black men play gladiator for the glory of the hometown team.
Nice people change nothing. They never have and they never will. Those who are nice are so invested in their niceness, in their sense of propriety and civility that they rarely raise their voices above a whisper, even in the face of sweltering oppression. Nice white people were the ones who didn’t own black folks during the period of enslavement but also didn’t raise their voices against the ones who did. Nice white people are the ones who didn’t spit on sit-in demonstrators but also had no problem spending money with businesses that had remained segregated all those years.
For the full reflection from Wise, please visit his blog here.
At Peacebang, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein says:
The denial is staggering. My colleagues are weighing in, one by one and then in a rush, commenting on Facebook and e-mails and in messages about their conversations with white parishioners who don’t get it, who are sunk up to their knees like quicksand in white privilege and denial and a worldview that wants to assume that this doesn’t just happen and he must have done something and you don’t know everything and did you read the report? and did you read it as thoroughly as I did, because if you did you wouldn’t be so upset, you wouldn’t be sick and snarling and enraged and disgusted with humanity right now, you’d be the nice, comforting minister I expect you to be.
My casual faith in America is the part of me — thoroughly grounded in white privilege — that has believed without overmuch reflection that our country values equality of all races at its core; that our laws and policing are color blind in their practice; that the efforts of politicians, business leaders and clergy are sincerely geared towards serving all the people; and that America is steadily progressing on the path towards a ‘more perfect union,’ to quote our president.
My ‘faith’ in America was based on things hoped for but as yet unseen (to borrow from Hebrews 11:1). But more importantly, it was based on things hoped for, but not worked for — at least not very hard. Contrary to much that I intellectually knew to be true about the vicious, pernicious nature of racism, I held onto a lazy faith that racism in America would slowly erode itself through some kind of magical process of good will that required little of me aside from a friendly disposition and a hopeful spirit.
That faith, which was blind and useless, died when I watched the video of Eric Garner being choked to death at the hands of an officer who has now been let off without even a trial.
I thank God for my loss of faith.
Because one thing I know is that blind faith is dangerous — by what it does and what it leaves undone. In this case, my blind, casual, easy ‘faith’ in America stood by while daily violence was done to my black sisters and brothers and I did essentially nothing to help.