Being able to see systems is a gift.
Many historical decisions were made to benefit how and where I live. From the slaughter of Native Americans to redlining to the GI Bill that benefited almost exclusively white families like mine, government systems favored people like me – people with white skin.
So why would I call it a gift to see systems? I could blissfully support a system that isn’t broken for me without examining the cost that black and brown bodies paid and are paying along the way. I could honestly believe I am race-neutral in doing so. The answer for me lies in the realization that systems were created and can, therefore, be re-created. Systems are not immovable objects.
Plus, I can no longer say, “Racism is bad, but I don’t know what to do.” Systems are process and policy and decisions. When we are honest about the historical choices and current outcomes that systems are providing, we can become intentional about the change, dismantling, and re-creation needed to support racially just outcomes.
This message is excerpted from “Reflections on systemic racism: The gift that is the “red pill” by Mikki Coles from the March 21, 2022, blog of the Women of the ELCA. Today is Juneteenth.
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