To be silent is to be complicit. By now, you may be exhausted by the discussion on racism in America and across the world. You may have experienced it directly or intentionally, or unintentionally perpetuated it. I have learned a few things about myself in the last several weeks. There are some things that I am not proud of, and honestly, a little reluctant to share.
I have discovered that my continued silence on the subject of racism is not a choice of neutrality but comfort, that my excuses for remaining silent are without merit, and that it is I who needs to change.
To Be Silent is not a choice of neutrality but of comfort.
To be silent is not a neutral choice. Being quiet is about my level of comfort during this conflict. I mistakenly believed that being silent allowed me to remain neutral.
But my silence implied agreement, making me an accessory to the crime, and emboldening evil men to act.
To be silent implies agreement. When I don’t speak up, others believe I agree with what was said. I influence others by what I say and do, but also by my silence. Too many times, I have remained silent when speaking up would have made a difference.
To be silent makes me an unintended accessory to the crime. The law sees complicity in people who aid the criminal. For example, a get-away car driver is an accessory to a robbery. I may not have made the racist comment, but I share in the collective harm done by it by ignoring it.
To be silent emboldens evil men to act. Who knows what evil might have been stopped by directly bringing attention to it? I need to call attention to corruption. I need to add too, not supplant, the ones who have boldly called out evil.
To Be Silent Is inexcusable for me.
There are a variety of reasons why someone might choose not to speak upon the subject of racism.
Here are a few of my favorite excuses.
I am guilty of racism, so it would be hypocritical for me to speak up. I am responsible for my role in allowing systemic racism to thrive in our contempt-driven culture.
I am afraid of being misunderstood. I have rewritten this paragraph multiple times, but there will still be some who draw inferences and conclusions that I did not intend.
I am afraid of being labeled a troublemaker. I am worried about disrupting long-time friendships or making things worse for myself.
I am afraid of making a mistake in what I say and doing additional harm to those suffering.
All of my excuses are without merit.
So what do I do?
I acknowledge that is I, not others, that need to change.
It is so easy for me to point my accusing fingers at others. But the truth is that I need to change.
Here are a few areas that I am asking God, and others, to help me address.
I need to ask God, and others, for forgiveness. I believe that prayer changes things, but first of all, prayer changes me. I need God’s help in uprooting the evil of racism in my own heart, but I need not wait until I am perfect in this area to speak up. I will never be perfect. I hope that an admission of my struggle in this area may encourage others to examine their hearts as well.
I need a continued conversation on the subject of race. That conversation is with those who are like me, but most importantly, with those who are different than me. I will never completely understand others’ experiences, but I can begin by listening to their stories today.
I need the courage to challenge the harm done by systemic racism. I understand that being a man, and being white, have granted me privileges that others do not have. I don’t need to feel guilty for being born. But I need to be aware that the status quo that is beneficial to me is harmful to others. I can help others be heard by lending my influence and access to them.
I need humility and a willingness to receive correction from all sides.
There will be times I will not say or do the right thing. Times that my good intentions do more harm than good.
In those moments, I need to listen and respond in gratefulness to those who are trying to help me.
I need to acknowledge that others have carried this fight, they are exhausted, and I need to join their efforts, not replace them.
I need to recognize the concerns that people have with potential changes in culture.
Call To Action
Pray that God will use this time for His good, in my life and others.