owning my racism

I fought writing this for weeks. Can I say this? Am I being pretentious, talking about the Big Things like I am any kind of expert?

But also in the back of my mind, the reality: it is my privilege as a white person that even gives me the option to NOT discuss it.

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I am a racist.

I hate the word. I hate that I just wrote it. I hate that it’s true.

I know in my head and in my heart that God made us all in His image and loves us all the same. I know that the variation of color on our outsides is a reflection of His great creativity and beauty.

But there is some preprocessing part of my brain that still has an urge to separate people into categories: Us and Them.


The other day, I was downtown. I had just packed my circus of small people into the minivan at the curb, fresh from a birthday party at the museum. They had a chance to decorate their own cupcakes at this party, and I was balancing a plate full of ridiculous-looking something that wouldn’t necessarily look like a dessert to the untrained eye. As I was grabbing the plate of frosting off its holding space on top of my car and getting in, a guy was looking at me curiously.

I felt my body tense. He looks sketchy. What does he want? Are my doors locked?

Then, a half second later, the rest of my brain caught up and shame washed over me. He doesn’t “look sketchy.” His skin is a different color than mine. Jeez. A second look revealed zero red flags. I unrolled my window, wondering if he needed directions or something.

“Can I help you?”

“I was just curious what you were carrying.”

“Oh! Believe it or not, these are cupcakes! The kids got to decorate their own!”

We both chuckled. I went home.


Brené Brown posted a video shortly after Charlottesville and something has been rattling around in my head ever since: we can’t move forward until we own our collective story.

We can’t move forward until we own our collective story.

I’m not sure I’m in a position to own a collective story, but I can own mine.

I am the kind of racist who has friends of all colors, but strangers get sorted into “like me” and “unlike me,” as if color had anything to do with that at all.

I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time the other day. I automatically picked up a conversation I had just been having with a different acquaintance from Japan because I didn’t initially differentiate between the two. Evidently “Asian Woman” is exactly one person in some dark corner of my brain. (This is funny because, technically, I am an Asian woman. But whatever.)

I am the kind of racist who sometimes registers only ethnicity when I am talking to someone. 

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Last week, I was getting my two-year-old boy up for the day. I was changing his diaper, talking to him, and smooching his sweet round cheeks, when it occurred to me: there are a lot of mamas out there changing diapers of toddler boys right this moment, but they’re wondering how to keep them safe in a world where they will be shadowed in stores and pulled over too frequently and just generally assumed guilty until proven innocent. Those brown-eyed, round cheeked boys are more or less the same as my baby, just darker. Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about that.

I am the kind of racist who sees my privilege—like the greater level of safety for my son based on his color—and feels relief first, heartbreak at the injustice later.

I’m not the kind of overt racist who advocates violence and holds my race superior to others, but I’m not willing to say my (more common) brand of latent racism is any less a problem. If I try (however ineffectively) to imagine myself outside of my fish-belly white body, I’m pretty sure “We’re tolerant! And inclusive! Totally colorblind! We heart diversity!” shouted loud from American culture, alongside the reality—from sideways glances to shooting unarmed adolescents—would create a dissonance inside that would make me feel crazy and resentful.

So, friends… I’m sorry.

I don’t know how to fix it.

I’m not sure how to change the circuits in my brain that sort immediately based on color. 1 Samuel 16:7 says “People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I suppose looking at the outside is precisely what I’m doing. I’m not God, and can’t just see hearts rather than exteriors, but I don’t have to stop at exteriors- I will keep looking for hearts.

I can also stop denying it. I can quit shouting, “I’m not a racist!” while my behavior betrays me, however subtly. Because, while I can’t do much with America’s collective story of racism, I can own mine.

dear Christians: Trump is not the Savior of America

Hi.

So… Election 2016 is over. (Hooray!)

It’s been over for mere hours and already, I’ve seen posts from friends—people that I like—saying things like “I guess God still loves America!” and “Thank you, Jesus, we won!”

Let’s talk about this for a second.

God still rules. Jesus (not Trump) is still the Savior.

When we position Trump as God’s choice for America (rather than the choice of the people, which God will use as He pleases) we say “Jesus is on Trump’s side.”

This is a HUGE FREAKING PROBLEM. Because this is saying something to all the people he’s maligned over the last months and years. If Jesus is on Trump’s side, then logically He’s against a whole bunch of folks:

Minorities.

Muslims.

Women. (Oh, just kidding. Trump loves women. That’s what he says. So that should make up for the sexual assault, right?) 

Please stop.

God isn’t against any of the people Trump has bashed lately based on the externals he was bashing them for.

Do you know which people God opposes? The proud.

Just sayin’.

I get it. There could be some tactical upsides to having Trump (or, more specifically, NOT CLINTON) in the White house… Supreme court justices and stuff. A lot of you were voting strictly for unborn babies and traditional marriage. But even if those are your BIG THING, he’s only been pro-life for like five minutes, and if you’re counting on Trump’s “family values” to do anything for actual Biblical marriage, be prepared for some disappointment. The dude doesn’t understand even the most basic values of marriage as laid out in the Bible.

This is not what a godly president looks like. Please don’t get so excited you get confused.


The election is over now. So we do the same thing we’d have done if it had gone the other way.

We trust God’s providence.

We pray for mercy.

We love our neighbors.

We ask God to bless our leaders (present and future) with wisdom to lead.

(And we thank Him that the election is over and that He will defend His own name.)

 

 

(a sad story, but a good God.)

A long time ago (probably just past a decade now), we were in a group of mostly-college-aged mostly-singles from our church.

In this group (as frequently happens), a boy and a girl started to date. They were perfect together. Beaming. He proposed. The engagement lasted only long enough to put a simple wedding together. Its length was measured in weeks, not months. I was overjoyed for them. (I had, not long before, endured a six-month engagement… a few weeks seemed much more doable.)

I helped with a few practical aspects of the wedding. I recall cutting up a LOT of fruit from Sam’s club with another friend. I remember chatting with the bride’s mama the evening before the ceremony. “This one’s gonna last,” she said. I agreed. They loved each other deeply and, more, they both loved and followed Jesus.

I watched them pledge “until death.”

A couple years passed. We were now attending different churches, so we saw less of each other. We shared a few meals. He became a police officer, she became a mama. Then, as friendships can go, we all got busy and we lost touch. We kept up on pieces of each other’s lives over facebook. We chatted when we ran into each other around town, marveled at the size and number of each other’s kids.


Earlier this month, his face showed up all over the news and social media. He’d been ambushed on duty. Shot multiple times. Miraculously in stable condition in Anchorage with his wife. His leg would heal- he was up and walking, despite bullets still imbedded. Shrapnel had hit his eye, and it may be lost, but he’d likely be fine. We rejoiced with the entire town for his life.

Then, after nearly two weeks, he went into surgery for that eye.

Things went south.

He’s gone.

His sweet wife has four little kids to grieve with. They have a God bigger than all of this, but the road is long.

The community is heartbroken.

They say “Fairbanks lost a hero,” but we have hope, because he actually isn’t  lost- we know where he is.


I keep seeing the letters “RIP” followed by his name. “Rest in peace” is a nice sentiment, but I can’t help but read the word “rip.” Death is a rending of the way God created us. We know this intrinsically. Even when death is expected, it jars us.

Allen was ripped from his wife, from his kids, from his fellow officers, from his church and friends, from the town.

“Rip” indeed.

My heart is thankful for One who specializes in mending.

And right now we weep.


Lord Jesus, please hold Natasha and the kids especially near right now. I ask that You would use this, unfathomably, for their good and Your glory. Thank you for Allen’s faith and for the promise of heaven. Please give those around them wisdom to help and comfort his family. I pray that you would provide support for them long after the news has died down. Please cover them all with Your goodness and grace and mercy.


(If you’re looking for a practical way to help, here’s the crowdfunding page set up by the FPD Employee’s Association.)

voting and revisiting Tozer

I voted today.

I VOTED TODAY.

Do you guys know what that means? I can ignore any and every post on the election for the next couple weeks. Hallelujah.

It also means that my one small piece of influence over this whole embarrassing, ugly train wreck of an election has been utilized and it’s fully out of my hands. (Well, I mean, I live in Alaska and the election results are always announced when polls close on the west coast—before ours do—so my influence was indeed negligible. But anyway. Yay, ‘Merica. I voted.)

As we come in on the home stretch of this dumpster fire, can I just remind you again of something? While everyone is trying to convince you to vote for someone or against someone else and if this goes wrong (and how could it not?) the whole nation is going to hell in a hand basket…

God is still God.

I know you know that. But I feel like in a lot of practical ways, we (Jesus-lovers in the US) have forgotten it. I know I lose sight of it from time to time- things can feel a little bleak.

But this is where we are, and His grace meets us here.

People can see us. You know that, right? And as we all FLIP OUT over candidates and policies and platforms, it reveals whether we really trust in a God we say is sovereign. As Max Lucado so kindly pointed out, come November 9, God will still be God.

I’ll leave you with this thought yet again (because Tozer is smart):

God’s sovereignty means that if there’s anybody in this wide world of sinful men that should be restful and peaceful in an hour like this, it should be Christians. We should not be under the burden of apprehension and worry because we are the children of a God who is always free to do as He pleases. There is not one rope or chain or hindrance upon him, because he is absolutely sovereign.

-AW Tozer

For my friends who love Jesus: let’s hold on to the peace that comes with the knowledge that, regardless of what happens in November, God remains on His throne.


This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. Or, you know, lots of days in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

in defense of social media

(It’s a web. Hahaha… hilarious.)

In defense of social media? Who the heck do I think I am? Yeah. Facebook totally needs me to stand up for it. 

At any rate…

Social media gets a lot of negative press lately. (Ironically, most of this is shared via said media, but whatever.)

It causes comparison leading to discontentment.

It sucks time.

It replaces “real” relationships with pretend ones.

It’s full of anonymous vitriol.

All of these are valid. People are forever announcing on facebook that they’re breaking up with facebook. And I get that. If it makes you crazy, for the love of all things good, STOP. Of my friends that are on social media, many regard it as sort of a guilty pleasure or a necessary evil. “Yeah… It’s bad for me, but it’s where my friends and family are, and that’s how I stay in contact with them all at once.” I get that, too.

But can I offer an alternate view? And it won’t apply to everyone. But I’m in a really  isolating season right now. I’m home. And when I’m not home, I have a whole bunch of people that I have to keep track of and instruct constantly, so I’m not especially open to connect. I’m working really hard to get out and talk to people in person more, but it’s taking a while.

Social media offers a way to stay in contact anyway.

This is priceless.

Do the best relationships happen as I scroll through my various feeds? No. But it gives little windows into my friends’ days that I can connect with them about beyond the news feed. (You know. Like in comments or messages or the occasional fragmented in-person conversation over a playdate.)

Also priceless? The excuse to communicate with people via text. I write better than I speak. (Side note- if you interact with me primarily on social media, I’m likely to disappoint you in real life. I’m, at best, endearingly awkward at first. I become my more normal self—the one you see here, actually—in time.)  Kat, who’s long since become a dear real-life friend, told me that it took several visits to reconcile the me she knew from online with the me she was talking to in her house. Introvert thing? I don’t know. But when I have to make words come out of my actual mouth, I’m kind of… derpy. For serious. When I need to have an emotionally charged conversation to have with my husband, I often email him first so I can make my thoughts make sense.

So social media gives me (and I imagine a few others) a chance to connect in a more authentic way with more people than I could otherwise.

And you know what? I have a lot to learn from you. You have stories and perspectives that I don’t. Also, you have experiences that I DO have, but if we don’t talk about it, we both feel alone.

Would I love to hang out with you in real life? Yes. But, except for a few of the people near me, I just can’t right at the moment. So I’ll take what I can get.

So yeah. Social media can kinda suck. It can suck time and it can suck life if you’re not paying attention. But focusing on the negatives of it is, in a lot of ways, a little like whining about the weather: it brings everyone’s attention to the negatives with no real solution.

Like anything, there are downsides. But upsides, too. Let’s pay attention to those. Let’s take the gifts and let the rest go, as usual. Who’s with me?



This post is part of the write31days challenge, where I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

refugees-in-quotation-marks

Um, guys? We need to talk.


Since the attacks on Paris last week, I’ve seen an alarming amount of talk about refugees-in-quotation-marks. How we can’t let “those people” in or “they” will wreak the same kind of havoc here. In my circles, this opinion is being voiced by a minority, which is good. 

But that minority is from among those who vocally follow Jesus.

And since my blog is read mostly by friends of mine who follow Jesus, I’m going to talk to us for a minute.

Stop it.

JUST STOP.

For the love of the God who bought us at a very high price while we were still his enemies, we must stop.


Here are some Syrian refugees.

(source)

(source)

(source)

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Oh wait. Nope, that last one is my kids. My little dude’s brown eyes don’t look so different from the eyes of those Syrian babies. 

And seriously? The thing that separates my babies from the ones above them is geography. That’s really all.

You guys. According to WorldVision there are upwards of 4 million refugies and half are kids. My math degree came from UAF, but I’m pretty sure I can work this out… two. million. children. So of the 4 million, most  are families. Like mine. And yours.

So when we talk about refugees-in-quotation-marks, the sneering implication is that “refugees” is just a cover for “terrorists.” As if these babies had anything to do with the carnage in Paris. 

If we’re going to follow Jesus, we need to listen to what He says.  Here is what he didn’t say:

Avoid risks at all costs. Insulate yourself from the possibility of danger. If that involves turning away millions of sheep to keep out a couple hypothetical wolves, by all means, do that. (Notinmybible 38:4-5)

You know what he did say?

(And here’s where you DON’T get all sidetracked by the fact that not all of these were said by Jesus while he was on Earth… They’re said by God. In the Bible. Jesus is God. Settle down.)

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.  (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. (Psalm 146:9) 

 Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31, among others.)

[Important edit: In the interests of handling Scripture correctly, I have to note that none of these deal directly with American Christians being hospitable to Syrian refugees. The reason that I mention these scriptures is because they teach us something important about God’s heart- He is FOR those who are in need and have been mistreated, both of which describe the Syrian refugees.]

These are people. Made in the image of God. They need him. As his followers, it is absolutely despicable for us to tell them, “we don’t want your kind ’round here.” Because your kind is our kind.

Are they all good people? Nope. None of them are. Neither am I. Do they deserve grace? Um… No. Did you get the part where it’s called grace? Do they need Jesus? Absolutely. So do I.

Now, I get it. There are all kinds of very real questions here. And I’m just a mama. I don’t pretend to have all the answers.

Can the US absorb 4 million refugees? Of course not. But it can absorb some.

Will there be economic consequences? Yes.

Is security an issue? Yes. Of course it is. But almost all of these people are running away, at  great peril in the fleeing, from people who are terrorizing them. 

Yes, most of them are Muslim,and the terrorists are terrorizing in the name of Islam. But the fact that they are Muslims and the terrorists are Muslims does not mean that they are terrorists. That kind of logic is ignorant crap. 

And do you realize that Jesus loves them like he loves you? That he paid just as high a price that they might come, too? How can we possibly show them his love while curling our lip at these refugees-in-quotation-marks?

We cannot claim to be followers of Jesus while outright rejecting millions of people, millions of children, who are made in his image.