Seek first to understand and then to be understood. –Stephen Covey
I grew up in Clovis. I went to the rodeo. I had mostly white friends. And then I found the world of athletics. Athletics thrust me into a multi-cultural environment.
When I hear someone say you’re the beneficiary of white privilege, to me it sounded like you were saying I had a silver spoon in my mouth, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It sounded to me like there was an assumption that everything I had had been given to me and by the way, you’re a racist.
And that bothered me. It bothered me for a lot of reasons. I worked my backside off for everything I got. I fought my way through school, my degree, on the football field. I was raised in a single parent home and it wasn’t easy. How could you say I benefited from white privilege?
So I dismissed it before I even really understood what they were saying. Then someone told me white privilege is not saying you’re a racist that’s had a silver spoon in your mouth. Whether I knew it or not I was a part of a system that was biased towards middle class white dudes. I don’t appreciate that or want that, but it’s not about me, it’s about a system that lends itself that way.
To be honest, I still didn’t quite understand it. Then I read an article about “What Riding My Bike Taught Me About White Privilege.” You know I’m a hobby junkie and one of my hobbies was riding. When you ride you know that you are riding in a world that is biased towards automobiles. Our roads are designed to benefit automobiles. If you aren’t in a vehicle, people don’t even see you. It’s not that that driver is anti-bicycle, he just doesn’t even see you.
And you can’t win on a bike. People are mad at you if you’re on the sidewalk and they are mad when you’re on the road and that’s what I’m learning about white privilege. It doesn’t mean I’m racist, but it does mean there is an unintended bias towards middle class white people. The bias is changing and diminishing, but not fast enough.
Listen, I’m not a civil rights activist and I’m not the savior. I’m a white dude trying to understand the black narrative. From my lens I don’t see it. I don’t get it. It doesn’t mean I’m ignorant, it means I don’t understand, so I need to seek conversation to understand.
When these issues of discrimination and injustice are more than national headlines, when they are stories from your friends, the whole issue gets personalized. These are not simply racial constructs of a bygone era nor impersonal issues of those we have never met, rather these are stories of injustice from people in our community who matter deeply to God. They are right here—where we live, where we work, and where we play.
Unfortunately, injustice is a reality. This side of heaven we will always battle sin and it’s devastating affect. Though the Gospel unites us we must fight to understand one another and celebrate the diversity that God has created.
If we’re going to be serious about helping people connect to God and to each other in every neighborhood, then we need to learn more about our neighborhoods. God has given us an opportunity to provide leadership in our city and allow the gospel to influence how we interact in our community. And that’s why Hope Fresno is so important to me.
Come with me on a journey, with a teachable spirit, in humility. You might not agree with everything you hear, but you need to come and hear it all. I need to hear it all.
Will you put yourself in a situation where you can hear? Can you suspend judgment and put opinions aside and for just a moment, listen to what our African American friends can teach us?
- Friday, February 6- Doors open at 530pm. Panel Discussion and Program 630-930pm.
- Saturday, February 7- 9am-Noon. Lunch from Noon-1pm provided by Chef Paul
- Located at The Well Community Church North Campus.