[not] proud to be [fill in the blank]

Sometimes I’m not very good at follow-through. I have all kinds of good intentions and verbalize them happily. And then sizzle… fizzle… blap (and by blap, I mean splat, kapooey, dead).

I don’t particularly want to be characterized by this.

So, when I say that Now Is Not the Time to Move On (referring to the Trayvon Martin case and all of the really tough stuff that’s been brought to light because of it), I want to mean it. I want to engage more dialogue, get more people thinking, help move forward in reconciliation, not “move on.”

When I don’t blog about it, it doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it (although that’s a logical assumption); it means I don’t know how to say things, which approach to take, how to work some word-magic so, all of a sudden, people’s long-time blinders fall right off.

But this seems to be one of those times where, if I wait for perfect, I’ll be waiting forever.

And that’s not acceptable.

So I just want to talk about something that’s been bothering me. A couple weeks ago (actually, on the very night I wrote that blog post), I got a forwarded e-mail from a relative of mine. It was titled, “Be Proud to Be White.” As soon as I saw it in my inbox, my heart sank, and I felt physically sick.

“Really?” I thought. “Really?!?!”

I read the e-mail and only felt sicker and sicker. And angry. Angry that someone I’m related to by blood (not anyone in my immediate family–from my parents down–just to make that clear) is passing this around the internet. Applauding the person who wrote it, the person who forwarded it.

I’m not even going to dignify it by sharing any of it. I knew I had to respond but what on earth to say without unleashing a barrage of, “YOU CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN??? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME ABOUT THIS?!??! DO YOU EVEN KNOW A SINGLE BLACK PERSON??!?!??! I’M SO ANGRY WITH YOU BIGOTED, BLIND, WHITE, REPUBLICAN PEOPLE!!!!!!”

Instead, I wrote, “This makes my heart sick.” (With a sad face.) And a link to this article and said, “please read this.” (I haven’t re-read or deeply analyzed the article to see if I agree with every single thing, but the premise is this: the privileged in our country don’t know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.)

Here’s the thing:

I refuse to be Proud to Be White if that means saying ignorant things like “racism is universal” and not believing my black friends when they say life in America is different for blacks than it is for whites.

And I refuse to be Proud to Be American when we hoard resources and money and freedoms while others around the world are starving and impoverished and enslaved.

And I refuse to be Proud to Be a Christian when so many people are shunned and mistreated and ridiculed and hated in “the name of Jesus” in this country.

I don’t see that pride really has a place here at all. In fact, I think it’s at the root of a lot of our problems.

It’s time to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk HUMBLY with our God.

I don’t claim to know exactly what that looks like, but I know God promises to give us wisdom when we ask. I’m asking, God. Show me what to do.

12 thoughts on “[not] proud to be [fill in the blank]

  1. Kathi Denfeld

    Okay, so I have this strange habit of reading magazines backwards, and I just did that with you first few most recent blog entries. I commented and then came back and ready this. Holy cow, Marla! So right on and timely. These things hurt my hear, too, and I feel like we’re having some of the exact same conversations.

    Kathi

  2. Joyce

    I hope my comment is heard in the gentle tone intended…I really hate to see the word Republican tossed into the mix. Perhaps this person who sent you the email is actually a white Republican so in this instance the word fits, but I feel so discouraged about the reds and the blues in our country. I think party lines have become drawn in such a way that we can no longer dialogue with one another in a healthy way. I know many kind hearted, generous, caring, loving Republicans without a bigoted bone in their body. Likewise I know many Democrats with serious prejudices. And vice versa. I am with you on these insane emails and wish everyone would just say no before they hit forward, but I would love to take the political party piece out of the mix. I don’t think either party is innocent. Nor is everyone in either party guilty. Love you Marla and your tender heart for the injustices in the world!

    1. Marla Taviano

      You’re so right, Joyce. I used Republican, because the person who sent the forward is constantly sending me e-mails bashing Democrats. I have voted both ways and really don’t identify with either party. Thanks for taking the time to see my heart even if my words aren’t always carefully chosen.

  3. Gina

    I am not ashamed to be white but I am saddened to live in a country where I’m made to feel its a bad thing. I’m not ashamed to admit I don’t understand the struggle of other races but I am ashamed that a small number of people (Sharpton, Jackson) use tragedies for their own gain then to really bring about reconciliation. I’m certainly not ashamed to be an American but I not only ashamed I MAD when I witness (as I did last week) a foreign woman berate and mistreat an American woman working for little more than minimum wage then pay for her purchases with food stamps that my tax dollars provide. That makes me mad. I am ashamed that we have homeless, starving, cold children in America. We have a sex trade in AMERICA!!! Yet we have churches that are monuments to the rich. Everybody has a passion and mine are the people right in my own backyard. I’m ashamed we will spend thousands of dollars to go overseas on “mission trips” that are alot like glorified vacations but won’t cross the street to help children in need in America here.
    I applaud you Marla for your beliefs. While we often don’t agree I am thankful for the love with which you share them.

  4. Sharon

    PS – I was really hoping you were gonna say that the title and your initial reaction were way off and that the actual content of the email was good. I can’t imagine the person who sent it to you reads your blog??? You’d think they’d know better than to send something like that to you.

  5. Sharon

    Oh my. Hard (and very sad and disheartening) to know such an email forward was ever written and then passed around. Yikes. There is someone in my family who tends to send the most idiotic forwards. Haven’t seen this particular forward from her yet, but I guess I wouldn’t be too surprised if I do in the near future.

  6. dela

    This post kicks ass. I too refuse to magnify my struggles as an Afro American woman over the plight of another person. I refuse to keep distance and pride in my heart because I “have a right to be angry. “

  7. Ashley

    It strengthens my faith to see other followers of Christ seeing how poorly minorities are treated in this country and refusing to ignore the ongoing oppression. I am continuing to pray more Christians will not only wake up and take notice, but use this knowledge to make positive change. With the current state if race relations in this country, I am far from being proud to be White. I am ashamed.

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