This past week I got to spend a few days on the beach. My husband planned a trip for just us two to get away after I spent an exhausting summer working as a chaplain intern at a local hospital. Our anniversary is also coming up and he has work obligations so it was an early anniversary trip too.
After the third night of dining on our trip, I find myself shivering in the air conditioned restaurant that was recommended by our hotel. The restaurant was very popular; the only restaurant that we dined at that had a wait to be seated. I hate to admit this, but for the first time ever while at this restaurant, I became aware of my white privilege in public. I mean, I’ve read about it, I know that I benefit from it, but I usually notice it in hindsight. I first realized that for the third night in a row we had white, male waiters. I whispered to my husband to ask if he noticed. He said that he did. Then I leaned back and started to observe. In this particular restaurant, I’d say 90% of the wait staff were white males and 10% white females; 100% of the bus boys were black males that I observed. I leaned over and whispered to my husband, “this place is racist.”
Racism is something that many white people do not want to admit still exists and that is evident in the fact that All Lives Matter is trying to replace Black Lives Matter. Racism doesn’t exist like it once did with public lynchings and separate bathrooms, but it does still exist. Modern day racism is found legally in our justice system. Our jails are full of black men and the death penalty allows for us to legally kill those men.
Yes, all lives do matter, but when have white lives not mattered? The black men and women in the news that have been killed recently are not the first to be killed by police. Black youth in America have been taught by their parents to run from the police for a reason; because they have been killed since the days of slavery. They have been killed and white people have not noticed.
On Sunday, I sat in a new pew in a new church that I am about to begin my field study at as a seminary student and I was reminded that Jesus’ healing and restoring acts were not for the wealthy and privileged. In the Gospel of Mark 7:24-37, Jesus cast away the unclean spirit and made the deaf to hear and the mute to speak. Reverend Rebecca said that “racism is the demon of our day.”
Jesus is at work in the Black Lives Matter movement. Jesus is calling me to notice his children. Jesus wants me to acknowledge that I am privileged. Jesus wants me to write and post this blog even though I am scared of the comments I’ll get. Jesus wants me to proclaim that Black Lives Matter to me.