Our society is in pain.

I’m a white guy in an middle-upper middle class suburb. I was raised here and really enjoy living here. We have awesome opportunities for all people to enjoy. Low crime rates, lower unemployment, good schools, shopping galore and jobs. We do have people that struggle and have money issues, poor folks but in general,  it’s a fairly successful area. The American Dream.

As a white guy in a dominant white culture, I don’t have any real idea what it is like to be a non-white person but I can share what my perspective has been. It has definitely shifted over the years. Growing up I was aware of the evil of slavery and in the Civil War that over 600,000 lives were lost to settle the issue. I was aware of discrimination in the south and the courageous work of MLK and that generation to bring about the civil rights movement. My schools in KS had maybe a handful of black students but I did have a black friend on my block as a kid.

All I’ve known is white culture. As a teen the music scene was embracing rap and I was a metal head which kinda annoyed me. Why? I don’t know but somehow I felt a sense of unfairness. I actually liked rap but something within me was afraid so I made fun of rap as not talented and “black” music. Once again, why?  Looking back, I can see some horrible popular music at the time helped me develop a slight racist attitude.  I was a big Guns’N’Roses fan. They had and album called Lies that the popular song “Patience” was on, a top 40 hit. There was another controversial song on the album called “One in a Million”. It had a smooth sound and was easy to get to know. Here’s the lyrics;

“One In A Million”

1,2,1,2,3,4
[Whistle]
Guess I needed sometime to get away
I needed some piece of mind
Some piece of mind that’ll stay
So I thumbed it down to Sixth and L.A. —
So I thumbed it down to nine o six ten L.A. (“90610”)
Maybe a Greyhound could be my way

Police and Niggers, that’s right
Get out of my way
Don’t need to buy none of your
Gold chains today
I don’t need no bracelets
Clamped in front of my back
Just need my ticket; ’til then
Won’t you cut me some slack?

You’re one in a million
Yeah, that’s what you are
You’re one in a million, babe
You’re a shooting star
Maybe someday we’ll see you
Before you make us cry
You know we tried to reach you
But you were much too high
Much too high, much too high,
Much too high, yes, ow!

Immigrants and faggots
They make no sense to me
They come to our country
And think they’ll do as they please
Like start some mini Iran,
Or spread some fuckin’ disease
They talk so many goddamn ways
It’s all Greek to me
Well some say I’m lazy
And others say that’s just me
Some say I’m crazy
I guess I’ll always be
But it’s been such a long time
Since I knew right from wrong
It’s all the means to an end, I
I keep it movin’ along

You’re one in a million
Oo, you’re a shooting star
You’re one in a million, babe
You know that you are
Maybe someday we’ll see you, Oo
oh, Before you make us cry
You know we tried to reach you
But you were much too high
Much too high, Oo, much too high
Yeah,
Much too high, huh, no, no, oh
Ow!

Radicals and Racists
Don’t point your finger at me
I’m a small town white boy
Just tryin’ to make ends meet
Don’t need your religion
Don’t watch that much T.V.
Just makin’ my livin’, baby
Well that’s enough for me

You’re one in a million
Yeah that’s what you are
You’re one in a million, babe
You’re a shooting star
Maybe someday we’ll see you
Before you make us cry
You know we tried to reach you
But you were much too high
Much too high, ow, much too high,
Much too high, much too high
Yeah, yeee, yeah, yeee, igh!
Ow! Much too high
(Oh, much too high, ah,
much too high, ah, much too high
much too high, ow, much too high)

I remember there being some controversy and negativity about the songbut no real challenge. On the other side Easy-E and NWA were promoting a real thuggish culture with “Fuck tha Police” and “Boyz in da hood” etc.  Music may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things but I believe it is important to pay attention to what we feed our minds. Our pastor said our liturgy is an experience of marinading in what we believe. Music can be the same.
This music and being sent to live outside of LA as a partying teen right after the riots added fuel to racism within me. Once again, why?  I had never really experienced anything negative at the hands of black folks. One time my black friend and I were in an actual fight and his Mom angrily broke it up and jumped my ass about it. Looking back that may have been a seed but I was beating up her son in his own garage. I clearly was wrong. My family wasn’t overtly racist growing up but said I should be thankful to be white. Maybe another seed?
I was ignorant as a teen and am ashamed of the racist culture I was a part of.  Thankfully I moved a few times and my Dad, the genius that he is, sent me to Job Corps in D.C., 500 folks about 15 white. This experience changed everything. The lie I had come to believe was that I was racist in response to black prejudice. During my 6 months at Job Corps, I heard one anti-white comment, one! Kinda forced a shift in my opinions and removed the chip on my shoulder.
I have since repented of any and all racism and prejudice, recognizing it as the evil it is. I think it is easier for me to recognize the overtly wrong parts of my journey. The harder parts are the subtle, cultural influences that helped fuel it to grow such as the music scene, differences in urban culture,etc.. I am a white guy but my call is to embrace the family of all humanity, regardless of difference. I think this is God’s call to all people. Jesus is behind the eyes of everyone you lock eyes with, he shares our common humanity.
All lives matter, but if my black brother doesn’t feel as if his life matters as much as mine I want to do my part to stand in solidarity with him so I agree #blacklivesmatter.  Just because of the progress we’ve made doesn’t mean the work is done. I don’t know how to fix it but I know how to love. If us white folks can slow down in our defensive responses and learn to listen rather than accuse. Healing can occur. If we all cling to our pride, no progress can be made. Justice must be equal. Forgiveness can only be given (culturally) if the truth of the wrong is admitted.
Lord,
Give me eyes to see and ears to hear.
Show me my blinders and quiet my noise.
Return my heart to flesh and break its stony facade.
That I may know the Real.
Amen
Advertisements