“The guilt remains, more deeply rooted, more securely lodged, than the oldest of old trees; and it can be unutterably exhausting to deal with people who, with a really dazzling ingenuity, a tireless agility, are perpetually defending themselves against charges which one has not made. After his talk, the Racial Justice Ministry I work with decided to follow up with a screening of Tim Wise’s film, “White LIke Me,” and afterward, have a dialogue about white privilege. Tim Wise, an anti-racist educator and author, had spoken at an event a few weeks earlier.
As I sat on my patio on a sunny day, thinking it would take no more than an hour to come up with some closing remarks, I saw that it was taking longer. ” I definitely felt ashamed of what my people, white people, did to black people in this country — not only in the days of slavery but in the days of Jim Crow.
There’s a book (and now a film), “Without Sanctuary,” that includes images of postcards white people sent to their friends after lynchings.
I also feel, like Anne Braden, that the struggle for racial justice is related to my own humanity and integrity.
At Martin Luther King said, “All /human beings/ are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.
We may reach the critical mass we need to rid our country of this horrific plague.
I believe the cause of racial equality is a noble one, therefore, I can let go of any temporary discomfort I may feel because of the righteousness of the cause.But rejecting criticism when you’re in a place of privilege is very dangerous especially when you do justice work.This is a part of what he recently wrote on Facebook.But this meltdown reveals more than someone angry at critics.Look, if he spouted the rhetoric that he does in a different context, not one where he is paid to be some sort of anti-racism educator and speaker, then I would critique the White supremacy and White privilege and at times racism that shapes his responses to criticism.Then I remembered Tim suggesting we study the history of the white allies who were active in the Civil Rights Movement. Anne Braden was a newspaper reporter who lived in the South, in Alabama, in the 50s and 60s.She became involved in the Civil Rights Movement after covering the events at the Alabama Courthouse, which were horrific. Initially, she joined the movement not to help black people, but to help white people.Anne Braden lost friends because of the work she did on behalf of racial justice.She and her husband, like many white allies at the time, became social pariahs in their own communities.Anne Braden with Rosa Parks In his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King mentioned her as one of the few white people he could count on.As I read Anne Braden’s story, I was struck by what she said about white guilt, and how unproductive it was: “I never knew anybody who really got active because of guilt…I’ve never seen it move anybody.