Growing up racist – #1

“for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)

I’m writing today to my white skinned sisters and brothers…

Racism is the great challenge facing our country today (and yesterday and the day before that). Because most of us, being white, don’t usually experience the outright racism that we’ve seen in our country this week, we often don’t think there is a real problem. We can easily dismiss the cries for justice. We can easily choose to close our eyes and our ears.

And when we’re identified as racist, we indignantly cry, “NOT ME!” This cry makes sense because we reject white supremacy, we reject Nazis, we reject white nationalism. So how can we be racist?

I had a professor (in seminary) who used the analogy of fish swimming in water to describe culture. The fish cannot see the water just as we cannot see the air we breathe. The same goes with culture in that there is much we “know” and “believe” without actually being cognizant of it.

This morning I ran a nice, easy and enjoyable 5 miles. My run was, as is often the case, a good time for me to think about my sermon for Sunday. The verse above, from Romans, is part of the text for this week. I love the message that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. Not only are they irrevocable, but they are free and they are unconditional. Unfortunately we don’t always hear this message and when we do, we have trouble believing it.

It was as I contemplated this, I remembered something from my childhood. Maybe you remember it too. Indian Giver.

Do you remember this? It was what you said to someone who was not honest. It was what you said to someone who reneged on an offer to give you something. It implied the revocation of a gift. It was an insult. What makes it doubly insulting is that our nation were the one who were not honest with the indigenous. It was (and still is) our nation that stole (steals) land from the indigenous. It was our nation that broke treaties.

But to justify the horrible way we’ve treated the indigenous, we projected our sins on to them…as a culture. So that when I was a child, Indian Giver, meant thief and until I learned otherwise I accepted that.

This is just one of many examples…it happens to be the one that came to mind while I ran this morning. I plan to share more examples as I remember them. I’m glad I remembered because we need to remember these things. It is in remembering that we can repent and hopefully start down the road towards peace.

Please know that God’s gift of grace is irrevocable and it is for you. I hope and pray that as we live into this gift we better see our siblings as God’s beloved.

What examples can you remember?

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