Saturday, February 03, 2007

He Is Christian Like That! (This E-Mail Moved Me)

OK just when I was thinking there is no hope for the world, I get the following e-mail from a gentleman in the majority population who stumbled into the fields. I asked him if it was cool to publish it, and he gave me his OK. Below is my man's e-mail exactly as it came to the field:


Brian Herling wrote:> While looking for hate-mail on Cheney (actually, looking for a record of>what happened between the Cheney clan and Wolf Blitzer), I found your blog.>I read the top article on Biden and Obama, and I have to sadly agree with>you.>>I'm white, but lived in inner-city Atlanta for a couple years, trying to>make a difference (both in other people's lives and my own). I am still>sifting through the wreckage of my life during that time -- finding the>destruction and the jewels left behind by living out of my element.>>One of the things I've noticed is that my racism is still alive, even after>a few years of concerted efforts to destroy it. I see it in the little>things, but it is those little things that hint at a deeper truth. It is a>truth America has been steadfastly resisting for over 450 years.>>We, as whites, are a deeply racist lot. We were during the time of slavery,>and we are still racist today. Many of my friends and family will reject>that statement, but in response to that I have one reply:>>Are there any chronic diseases (of the body, mind, or soul) that can be>allowed to fester for 400 years that can be healed quickly, painlessly, and>without any special attention?>>I know of none, and do not think such a thing possible. I believe the wound>of racism and slavery has closed over, but it has not truly healed. The>evidence of this is overwhelming: Biden and many other whites making>oblivious comments; differences in color producing marked differences in>pay; the inherent belief that black history is one of ignorance and petty>tribalism. All point not to the inequality of races, but to the inability >of>whites to look beyond skin color and the refusal of whites to look back at>history farther then 30 years to find the source of "black angst.">>I have seen it in my own life many, many times. I will give only one>example, because it alone serves to condemn me (the others would only>convict me further).>>While in Atlanta, I worked under the city-directorship of a wise, godly>black man. I respected him, but I did not respect him with the level of>respect he deserved (and earned). I guess the easiest way to say it is that>I submitted to him, but there were times when I did not capitulate. With >any>other race in authority over me, I have always submitted fully. With him, I>resisted that tendency to surrender utterly. It was not fear, but that was>the problem. With all other authority figures, I had a healthy dose of>respect/fear. With my city director, I did not have that same level of>respect/fear. I saw him as intelligent, but I did not see him as my Head.>>Years later, that same lack of honor caused me to realize how racist I was.>I called him up to talk to him, and heard that he had been promoted from>being a city director to the head of the organization he worked for. He had>not been promoted because of silly reasons, but strictly because of his>vision, heart, and love of other people. He was, quite literally, the right>person for the job.>>This meant that he had to move, and when he told me he was no longer a city>director, I thought that he had left the organization. It never crossed my>mind that he could be the director of Mission Year. I quickly rearranged my>thinking when I realized he was now the leader of a national organization,>but that first faulty assumption told me all I needed to know. It was the>death knell ring in my soul.>>I guess, in some way, this letter to you is a letter of apology to him. It>is a confession aimed at the soul of racism writhing like a parasite inside>my heart. It is still there. I have seen it in my conversations with other>blacks, and I both loath it and feel utterly helpless to remove it.>>My city director taught me that the only known cure for racism was active,>honest friendships. I think he's right. I hope we can engage in those>friendships as a nation, or at least through dialog from the heart. In the>end, we need to see each others' hearts.>>I've got to go, but from one world-weary traveler to another:>>Peace>>In particular ('cause I'm Christian like that):>>God's peace>

Brian's thoughts reminds me of another article I saw in the Philadelphia Inquirer from a white journalist recently. You know what, the field is becoming more and more encouraged every day. Maybe there is hope for us after all. Thanks for your honesty Brian, you are a Christian, and yet, you struggle with your racism. At the end of the day, a little honesty is all the field is asking for. I think that goes a long way in healing some of the wounds that tears us apart. I know I struggle with lots of things myself, and at the end of the day, I think that is what this blog is all about; sharing my struggles with other people with similar struggles and life experiences.

The journey goes on, and we all are on it.

I'm out.

8 comments:

Liz said...

That's an incredibly touching letter. How inspiring it is to see the author owning up to the subconcious sense of superiority which, unfortunately, is all too common in our society. Most folks are all too eager to adopt the cloak of "I'm not racist" and they never take a hard look at themselves as this gentleman did. Thanks for sharing.

C-dell said...

I have hope for humanity. I think that we can move past our current divisions. If we learn to respect each other for our differences.

rikyrah said...

Everytime I get to the brink of total cynicism, something like this happens. Thanks for sharing this, FN.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame more people don't have his level of honesty.

field said...

Yep, all of you touched on it; the key word, IMHO, is honesty. Until we can go there with each other, we will never have a real discussion on issues of race.

Tasha said...

Very timely and moving. I can only hope that all of us can get to a point of being that honest, especially with our inner selves.

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