“White privilege is the privilege to be ignorant of the world around us.” —Jamie Kapp
Every February I find myself learning new and significant pieces of the history of my country. It is information that I should know but have not been taught, nor have learned on my own. It also begs the questions, why don’t I know these stories and what do I need to do to better educate myself on the past and the present, so I can help create a better future?
I grew up with the privilege of not having to really acknowledge the horrific parts of American history. And this privilege was to my detriment. It blinded me to realities of those who grew up with a darker pigment than I, and the ways racial inequality continues to shape both my opportunities and the lack of opportunities others have endured. It blinded me to the ways in which the 250 year history of slavery in the U.S. continues to impact how people are treated, thought of, and discriminated against.
African American history isn’t the only history I need to learn for myself, but it is one of the most painful histories to face – painful in acknowledging what has been done in the name of Whiteness and Christianity. It is also one of the most profound histories – a history of struggle, endurance, perseverance, and even of hope – hope in the ability of humanity to overcome oppression. In the history of African Americans, I find my own history broadened, and my own faith in the God who freed the Israelites strengthened. It is through excavating this history that we can chart a way forward – that the arc of history might bend more readily toward justice – and that we, as followers of Christ, might more fully live into the Kingdom of God.
I hope you will join me in learning more about history this February, that we all might better understand our present, and work toward a better future.