Just came from a meeting with my friend, Rev. Craig Dunn.
You know Craig. He’s the pastor at First Baptist Church, an African-American church. Some white folks there, but mostly black and they’ve been watching their town change.
The Madison, New Jersey of today in so many ways hardly resembles the Madison, New Jersey of even 20 years ago. There was more diversity in Madison 20 years ago. Certainly, more African-Americans.
They’ve seen their family homes razed for “McMansions” and suburban sprawl and Madison’s version of gentrification. The population shifts and migrates from Madison to Morristown, for example, or some other nearby borough or town with more diversity and more affordable housing. A paradigm shift. A socioeconomic reality.
See this conversation through the lens of the myriad cases of police violence against people of color. And through a similar lens, look at the statistical likelihood of incarceration for men of color. And now look through the lens of white privilege.
If you don’t know that the white privilege lens exists at all, you may not see any of this. Not a bit of it. You are literally blinded by the white light.
This isn’t even on your radar.
If you’re white, you may not even know that your whiteness comes with a built-in advantage that people of color do not have. Assumptions get made about your intentions, motivations, and aspirations long before you have a chance to prove yourself. In fact, you don’t even need to prove yourself. You’ve already gotten a pass in so many ways and you may not even know it. The “goodness” of your being is simply assumed and your starting square is ahead of the game.
This is true.
People of color most often start from less than “scratch.”
If you’re black, you know that your blackness comes with built-in suspicions that white people do not feel. Assumptions get made about your intentions, motivations, and aspirations long before you have a chance to prove yourself. In fact, you usually don’t get a chance to prove yourself at all. You’ve already been judged and you totally know it. The “badness” of your being is simply assumed and you’re constantly aware of an implicit threat. You don’t even get to start the game. Yes, you could wind up dead.
This is true.
And please don’t kid yourself. It’s dismissive to say, “Well, I don’t see color.” Even with the best of intentions, you’re not being honest. We all see color. Of course, we do!
The host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, said this best:
“I don’t believe in that at all when people say that,” Noah said. “There is nothing wrong with seeing color. It is how you treat color that is more important.”
He’s right, and that is how I see my big, black, beautiful friend, Craig Dunn. We can’t keep kidding ourselves and patting ourselves on the back for making so much progress because even for Madison, New Jersey—clearly, the more things change, the more they stay the same especially for the black community, what’s left of them.
So! Today we’re shaping this conversation around the “Beloved Community.” A vision by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. From a quick Google search, I found a definition of the Beloved Community that’s better than what I could say:
In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.
Next month, we celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 16. And this year, we are teaming with other churches, the universities, the police, and community leaders to organize an entire week of peace.
A whole week of Beloved Community!
Watch this blogspace, the eNews, the church calendar, and the greater Madison community as we continue to shape this conversation around the Beloved Community.
It’s a great place to jump into the conversation.
Grace & Peace,