Friday, October 7, 2016
So here are the lyrics
For the full context, this song is a response to a joke going around on email about a billionaire, public housing, and a black family.
The book I mentioned at the beginning of the video is Learning to be White, written by theologian and minister Thandeka, with a summary here and here, available for purchase here.
The draft of the my email response included:
I had a tiny chuckle, but then... Just. No.
First, I love you, and I always will.
And I'm feeling SO truly exhausted trying to work against the tide of systemic racism and white privilege still being regularly leveraged into subtle or overt power plays. Despite being exhausted, I am choosing to respond to this because silence can be interpreted as complicity and I can't be complicit to this, or else the many hours I volunteer each week toward achieving racial equity gets lost in a slurry of mushy integrity. To see this email in 2016, even from you, disappoints me, because these email jokes circulating among whites serve to normalize our broken (systemic and interpersonal) state of race relations. I want our nation and world to be whole, and this works against that goal, instead of serving it. Despite the multi-dimensionally fouled-up and divided state of our nation and this world, I want to invite you to begin with a vision of social wholeness.
But this "joke" needs to be addressed as part of that vision. The latter half of this joke has so much energy in it, that from my perspective, it is obviously seeking to "wink, wink" it's way into re-asserting white supremacist culture.
The phrase "public housing vacated by a black family" has so many implications.
1. The Obama family have been living on the taxpayer dole, as if being elected president didn't also confer residence at 1600 Pennsylvania to all of the previous presidents. Nobody would've made the statement that the Bush or Reagan (or Clintons, even) were living in public housing.
To everyone reading, I encourage reflecting on what kind of social state you want to leave for your grandchildren and descendants. Each of us who are white have a choice to make: to either affirm and entrench the privileges we get just for appearing in the skin we live in, to ignore the privileges while continuing to benefit from them, or to recognize them and work against them. This is a truly difficult effort because it requires deep self-examination, and re-formation of self in relationship to others. Seeing ourselves in this way is often very uncomfortable and sometimes quite painful, but not anywhere near as painful as seeing your child gunned down dead in the street.
I've likely belabored my preaching well beyond the simple point of "racism stops with me," and I do so because I thought I've been argently clear on where I stand on justice issues: https://m.facebook.com/story.