Confessions of a White Privileged Christian Female American
A few months ago I was walking down the streets of Berkeley. The sun was setting, and as the city darkened I threw my purse around my neck in order to hold on a little tighter. There weren’t many people out and about so as I watched an African American male dressed in dark colors with a hat on approach me from a couple blocks away, my heart started to race just a bit. The fear of being robbed flashed through my mind as I began to walk closer to this stranger, only then to realize… Oh God, it’s my friend from church! My whole body shuttered as I realized that I was scared of my friend, my brother in Christ. And I wondered, how many people feel the same way about this amazing person every single day as he walks his own neighborhood.
As much as I am utterly embarrassed to admit this to the world, I feel that it must be done. Because if the issue of racial profiling will ever come to forefront of conversation in this country, it must begin with the racial profilers. Though I am guilty of racial profiling, believe it or not, I have actually been racially profiled. It’s true. One time when I was pulled over by Irvine, California Police Department, the officer looked at my license and said, “What race are you?” I responded with “White.” “Well you don’t look White,” the Officer scowled back. I was terrified. I thought to myself, well sheesh, they don’t give you the option of “mixed” or “multiple races” on your drivers license application (I am a Caucasian and Mexican American). Lucky for me he let me go unharmed. Unlucky for him, this privileged White girl took her complaint all the way over to the Chief of Police… and they listened.
But what happens when people do not have that privilege in this society? We’ve all heard about cops racially profiling black males, searching their cars for no reason, and hassling them though they are innocent. What about the black males who are walking home on just a regular day – like my friend who I profiled – they don’t have the same privilege as a White male walking home. What happens when a young black teenager with an iced tea and a bag of skittles is walking home in a hoodie and it automatically profiled as a trouble maker… as someone who “always gets away.” What happens when that teenager is shot and killed by an overzealous neighborhood watchman, who ultimately gets acquitted on the self-defense argument (because the sidewalk is now a weapon)? And what happens when no one wants to admit that this entire case revolves around race because people believe that racism in America is dead?
Well we know exactly what happens, because we are living in it. I am not going to go on and on talking through specifics, as I only want to focus on one thing. If we as Christians (specifically White, privileged Christians) truly care about racial reconciliation, now is the time to show it. Now is the time to admit that the Zimmerman/Martin case was and is about race. We must admit to ourselves that we know that Zimmerman would have never followed a White teen around the neighborhood that night. And I dare say we also know that if Zimmerman were African American and Martin were White, Zimmerman would have been convicted months ago. It is time for privileged Christians to recognize why this case has been so heart-wrenching for our African American brothers and sisters, and to step up and stand alongside them as they walk through what this means for them, their families, and especially their young black sons. It is time for each one of us to admit to ourselves that when we see an African American male walking towards us, we clench our purses a little tighter – we profile! And most importantly, it is time for us privileged Christians to admit that we are privileged, and to try our best to truly understand what that means, and what that has brought us in our lives. I challenge you reader to think about this, read more, and instead of fighting back in the comments section, to really meditate on what I am saying here. Lord, have mercy.
“We must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murders”
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