Hey White People!

Hey White People! This is our time!

No, not to make America great again. But yes, absolutely to make America actually America for the first time ever.   As Langston Hughes hauntingly wrote,

“O, let America be America again—

The land that never has been yet—

And yet must be—the land where every man is free.

The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!”

Hey White People! This is our time!

It’s our duty to fix this. White privilege is real, especially white straight male privilege. I never really knew how real it was until I wore an orange prison jumpsuit for the 40 days of Lent in 2014. Until the day that I drove around in my car, walked in and out of my office, strolled through my neighborhood, wondering, “Could I get shot today?” I never knew. But the fear is way too real. And it paralyzes. It is exhausting.

Yet, I could take off my Orange-ness. I could explain it away. That was my privilege as a white straight male in America. Our brothers and sisters of color, who are Muslim, who are immigrants or from the LGBT community, whose God-given beauty is also their human-derived horror, they can’t take it off and explain it away. They don’t get that privilege. And the fear is all too real, yall.

Hey White People! This is our time!

We must listen, truly listen, for probably the first time ever. I cannot explain to you, White People, why a vast majority of our black and brown and Muslim and immigrant and female and just simply non-WhiteStraightMen, why they feel more Other than they ever have before in their lives since 2:30 am Wednesday November 9, 2016. So ask them to explain. But only if you truly want to know, because they have been trying to tell us for, well, forever.

So stop reading articles or posts on social media. Go ask the young teacher in one of Waco’s local public schools – who is an immigrant – ask her what it felt like on Wednesday morning November 9 when her students started the school day weeping because the fear their parents will be taken away from them is far too real. Ask the young Black man why he feels the need to wear his “Sunday best” clothes every day to class or even just running errands around town. Ask the Muslim women in our community what the glares and stares feel like when they simply stand in line at HEB or drop their kids off at school. Ask an LGBT co-worker what they feel as their rights not to be discriminated against at work are stripped away. Ask your mom or your sister how it feels to know that a man who openly bragged about sexually assaulting women without showing any remorse or change in attitude toward them, ask how they feel seeing that man give the State of the Union speech. Ask them, White Straight Male, but only if you truly want to know.

Hey White People! This is our time!

It’s our turn to suffer. But we have to choose the suffering. We have to make ourselves suffer. As Toni Morrison professed to us way back in 1993,

“If you can only be tall because somebody’s on their knees, then you have a serious problem. And my feeling is that white people have a very, very serious problem, and they should start thinking about what they can do about it. Take me out of it.”

A good friend of mine who is Latino said to me recently, “Maybe this had to happen.” Maybe we had to rip the long-festering wounds wide open so the deepest, fullest healing might begin. Maybe. But that’s not for me to say.

Because I won’t necessarily suffer. My Other friends will. Yet they have suffered way too long now.

White people, this is our time to suffer, but we must choose it.

We must have the hard conversations we avoid every year at the Thanksgiving table, where we acknowledge our White privilege, and with contrite hearts we amplify the voices that our parents and aunts and uncles and cousins may never hear due to the earplugs that are our privileged White existences.

We must choose to stand in the way of the deportation forces when they come knocking on the doors of our neighbors’ and co-workers’ homes hell-bent to tear families apart, those who have never done anything wrong except try to ensure their families’ survivals.

We must BELIEVE them when they share their painful stories of being otherized, pushed off the sidewalks, knocked back down to their knees.

Hey White People! This is our time! It’s our time to carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters who have carried our burdens way, way too long. I can only imagine how weary they must be, for they have been fighting their whole lives. Their existences are their fight. How utterly exhausting. So, White People, it’s our time to fight. It’s on us to fix this.

Stand with immigrants by learning the truths about our laws and their lives. (I can email you a presentation about the truths of our current immigration system, so you might know more about how broken and irrational it is)

Take a walk with the LGBT couple in your neighborhood.

Get lunch with your Muslim co-worker.

Ask your mother or sister or daughter to show you how misogyny keeps them up at night.

Go lock arms with your local University’s NAACP students as you chant together,

“It is our duty to fight.

It is our duty to win.

We must love each other and protect each other.

We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

And mean what you say with them.

There are many conversations going on right now across the country about how we might stand together in solidarity with, how we might suffer for, every one of our community members when the time arises. Because it will. In fact, it has always been the time. We must choose to make it now.

We have nothing to lose but our chains…

Yet, White People, don’t expect the immigrants, the people of Color, the religious minorities, the LGBT community, all the Others, to fight for the change we all need. This is our time, White People! We must fight for our souls, for Love and for Justice. We must resist, even when it means we suffer. For through suffering, we find Life.

Hey White People, it’s our turn to fight. Let’s do this.

We have nothing to lose but our chains…

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