There seems to be a misperception that liberals are feeling superior to others when talking about racism. In other words, that we are saying, “You guys are racist. We are so much better because we are not.” And being a liberal myself, I don’t know anyone who means it that way (though I can’t discount that maybe there are some people with that little self awareness).
I am not even going to get into systemic racism here at all, but I want to talk about how we all have some very deep-seated prejudices that we might not even be aware of. When I talk about Black Lives Matter, it isn’t that I think people who have killed innocent boys made a conscious decision that those boys should die. I think it was all subconscious.
And that’s why we need to work on rooting out those biases and prejudices deep in our thoughts. It isn’t a skill often taught, but it is in Hinduism. You can catch your thoughts early and see what inaccurate things your mind is trying to make you believe. Then you have the power to correct your mind.
So here’s an embarrassing example. One day I was at the grocery store in line behind a Black woman about my age buying a birthday cake for her four-year-old son. She was talking to the cashier and mentioned her husband. I glanced at her hand and saw a wedding ring.
I realized in that moment that I had actually been assuming that she was a single mother! And I said to my mind, “That’s racist.”
I’ve caught many racist thoughts that my mind is trying to quietly slip in. And I’m ashamed and horrified by it. But I know that to make change, I have to be brave enough to notice and acknowledge when I am having those thoughts and to actively work against them.
Another assumption that I’ve caught myself making is that my Black friends already have a perfect understanding of oppression in politics and social justice, etc. I realized that that assumption is a form of dehumanizing them. They too worry about accidentally being racist and they don’t have all the answers about these very tricky times we are living in.
So if you hear me calling out racism, please know that I call it out in myself as well and I hope that it is pointed out to me when I haven’t noticed myself being racist. I have to learn, we all have to learn, so that we can more fully embrace each other as family and as God.