Black History – White Woman

Thank you. I’m sorry.

I need to say both. Thank you to everyone who has written, sung, or spoken the difficult truths of racism, discrimination, oppression and privilege. Thank you to my friends who have taken the time to tell me their stories so that I might understand my own history

better, so that I might understand myself better. I’m sorry that you have these painful stories to tell. I regret that I didn’t already know them. I realize now that I’ve been callous about your experience and ignorant of my own privilege. I apologize for those times when I’ve relied on you to teach me about oppression rather than take responsibility for learning it myself.

Thank you and I’m sorry.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” If he is right, then I cannot understand the garment of my own life, without knowing more of yours. To the extent that I have earned your trust to hear your story, I’m grateful. To the extent that I have not earned your trust, I hope to be humble and faithful. To the extent we may never trust one another enough to bear one another’s stories, G-d, hold us in your grace.

So, I offer this prayer…

When I do not see my own privilege – open my eyes.
When I do not hear the cries of my neighbors – open my ears.
When I do not acknowledge my own complicity in unjust systems – open my heart.

When I see privilege excused, give me courage to speak.
When I hear discrimination pardoned, give me faith to act.
When I find oppression allowed, give me love to build a new reality.

Please, dear G-d.

  • Maureen Matthews

    I’m in a group that is reflecting on what it means to be white in an unjust world. What an awakening! For the first time I realize that “my place” in the struggle for racial equality is in conversation with other white people. This is so much harder than anything I have ever done in the past. Nice to connect with others who share the journey!

  • Laura Cook

    Well stated!!! I pray this prayer with you!!

  • Tom Willadsen

    This is beautifully written, honest, humble, passionate. I hope and pray it receives a large audience.


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