I’m not sure where you are with everything happening right now—police brutality, protests, riots. For me, it’s been incredibly jarring. It feels like we have come so far only for many people of privilege to now realize we haven’t come as far as we’d like to think.
It’s brought to light just how helpless I feel to do anything about racial injustice. My thoughts have looked like this: Something more has to be done. But what? And what is my role as a white Christian in all this?
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had recently with friends that have ended with, “I wish there was something I could do.” I feel shame because I’m not doing something. But I also feel shame because I don’t even know what to do in the first place.
But then yesterday, I stumbled upon a post.
It was from my dear friend Jessica. She’s a lawyer—and she’s one of the smartest, kindest, strongest people I know. As an African American, she has been going through a lot during this time, and she has put together a slide deck to give the rest of us a clear glimpse into the emotional exhaustion she and many others are experiencing during these days.
But her post also did something besides merely opening my eyes:
It addressed my excuse.
“I don’t know what to do.”
Here’s one of the things she said:
“Instead of saying ‘I don’t know what to do or how to help,’ actually read the books and watch the resources we point you to. These resources say it better than we ever can or have the emotional capacity to provide right now.”
Jess put a bunch of books and resources at the end of her slide deck, and challenged me to make good on my assertion that I wanted to do something.
And in that instant, it hit me:
I actually can do something. I can learn more. And me learning more is one of the most important things I can do right now.
Here’s the thing: As a white person, I will never understand what it’s like to be Black in America. But what I can do is learn everything I possibly can, so that I can be as educated as possible. Once I know more, the question, “What can I do?” will be much easier to answer.
If you have found yourself in the same place of feeling helpless, I invite you to do this with me:
First off, I’m not going to allow myself to use the excuse “I don’t know what to do” until I’ve finished every last one of the books and films she recommended. Here they are:
Second, I’m going to be listening. Listening to my brothers and sisters. Listening to people who are hurting. Listening to God.
Third, I’m going to be praying for the church to be convicted. Praying for people to see ways they are unintentionally marginalizing others—myself included. Praying for restoration of the way God meant for things to be, before they went so horribly wrong.
And fourth, I’m going to be looking for ways to act. Sometimes we are led to take big action. And sometimes we’re called to simple acts of loving people in our lives, one person at a time. Both are incredibly valuable.
Take heart: There are things we can do. There are steps we can take, right now, to be a part of the healing.
As my friend Jessica boldly put it:
“Don’t let the realization ‘I will never understand’ be the end of your journey. Let it be the beginning.”