An open letter to the white supremacist

Dear White Supremacist:

You are not faceless or voiceless or nameless–but on this last account, you are most certainly wrongly named. Chief among reasons, I am compelled to write you to suggest a better category under which to file yourself.

***
When I was in my early 20s, I worked with young people at a community center.  Timmy was one of the youths who came to the center every day. It’s immaterial to discuss Timmy’s family, his race, his hopes, the grades he earned in school. What you need to know is that Timmy was an average size for a boy in the ninth grade who had not yet hit his growth spurt. He had noodle arms and walked with a forward tilt to his feet. He was not, at first glance, a fearsome presence. But when he played basketball, he told himself that he was the best. He wouldn’t let anyone get inside his head. Timmy could not dunk. He was not the most legendary of ball-handlers. He wasn’t in danger of being drafted out of seventh grade to the NBA. But he played as though he were. He would stick one, resolute, pointer finger in the air when he made a basket. He was Number One and could not have been convinced otherwise.

Timmy, delusional or not, inspired me. He threw his whole body into a game and played with all of his soul, and told the haters where to go.

***

The difference between Timmy and you, a so-called white supremacist, is that your delusion is in vain. Where Timmy threw up a pointer finger, you carry a tiki torch aflame. Timmy’s torch was more powerful because it sprang forth from a confidence that he was, indeed, supreme at being Timmy on a basketball court. Whereas your torch, carried under darkness of night when it is hard to ascertain your supposed supremacy, is merely the implement of a coward.

I know so little about you, and yet I know what I need to know in order to decide how wrongly you’ve been categorized, White Supremacist. I don’t know if you care for an ailing parent, if you’ve served in the armed forces, if you are a vegetarian. Given your affiliation, though, I know that you are hellbent on the eradication of any whose skin’s melanin exceeds your own.

Given that you are human, I know you didn’t enter into the world this way.

Instead, I know you entered into this beautiful, fractured world with all the wholeness and wellness your birth afforded you. You arrived uncloaked and tethered only to a life source. You came not yet having learned the words of hatred and violence; you were not hard-wired to delight in scourge and plunder.

You could show me the topographic map of your life from your innocence to your decision to adorn the proverbial or actual hood of cowardice. There, I might ascertain the peaks and valleys that delivered you to this plateau where you identify as a White Supremacist. But your geography is still disoriented, inscrutable. For your cause, your aim is not, in my view, White Supremacy.

It is rather Bald-Faced Inferiority.

Whereas Timmy with his noodle arms and tilted gait suppressed no one while asserting his own superiority, he became a supreme noodle-armed being dribbling a basketball.

But your animus as a so-called White Supremacists is born of your own inferiority complex. For if you, as a crusader, were truly convinced of you own supremacy, you would recognize your privilege is already guaranteed by the star under which you were born. You are effectively cloaked (no hood required) by the countless privileges afforded your white-skinnedness. You need not be threatened by the perceived encroachment of other populations, of seemingly unmerited opportunities of said populations, of the removal of the so-called emblems of your supremacy. Supreme beings are secure in their supremacy. Supremacy is found within, not in contrast to others. Supremely satisfied within themselves such that they enjoy the good that comes to others who are not just like they. Supremely secure in their position such that they enjoy helping others who are not just alike.

I myself have reached no such supreme nirvana. I am no Timmy on the basketball court. I waver, I doubt, I am a chaotic place. What I am certain about, what I believe to be the supremacy I’m striving for, is recognizing the Imago Dei in all of humanity: the stamp of divinity in each person created by God. In this way, my finger is pointed up in the manner of Timmy. Pointed toward the Truly Supreme who breathed life into each one of us, born whole, innocent, tethered only to a life source.

Sincerely,
Kendra

 

 

Continue Reading

Exhaling with a sigh

My old man, who ran for judge as a Republican once in one of the most Democratic counties, kept sighing. He and my stepmom took turns. One would sit down in a reading chair in our rented beach cottage over Thanksgiving and sigh. The other would nod and shrug. Then the other would read something or remember the impending doom and exhale with another sigh.

It was comical but then the shtick became something of a default, a modus operandi.

2016-11-26 11.48.58

We are still exhaling with a sigh in this house as we consider January’s inauguration, and the requisite exit of beloved leadership. It is with a sigh we concede that the electoral process has wrought what it has wrought. We sigh because our resignation feels like all we can offer to the universe, for if we allow the anger and the feelings of betrayal to rise too forcefully to the surface, they may consume us.

***

Yet here we are in the season of Advent, lighting the candles of expectation. Here we wait in this lobby, not just paging through a tattered back issue of Good Housekeeping, but sitting reverently as we ponder what it must have been to wait for the Christ child’s arrival. We think about the thousands of years when creation ached for a Savior who would set all things right. “And the government will rest on his shoulders.” All the earth groaned with expectation.

2016-11-26 13.34.15

I consider that sighing is not the motion of the expectant, the hopeful, the conquerors. Sighing is the reflex of the resigned.

Christ offers us so much more than a lobby for the lukewarm to wait out a president. He bids us come and rest awhile, but also to serve, to go into all the world and make his name known.

Am I mixing my politics with my priestly priorities? I hope not. I believe in rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to the Lord what is his in kind. But I also believe that one can apply a particular philosophy to a number of life’s endeavors. So I endeavor for my citizenship to be one that, like love, believes in all things, hopes in all things, and, in the way of love, never fails.

May our resignation turn to resolution as the new year offers so much hope.

2016-11-24 18.52.18

Continue Reading