I noticed that there is a blog reaction in the weekly round-up to the terror attacks in Oslo. I have been thinking and thinking about how to share my reaction in a public way, and just couldn't figure out how to go about it. Well, I guess I just couldn't figure out how to make time during the frantic summer season in the life of a religious educator of trying to fill teacher teams and figure out all the curriculum needs for 40 million classes as well as finding time to run a summer program! Too much, I tell ya! Someone neeeeeds a vacation!
But this Oslo thing. It's been sitting here on my shoulder. I'm half Norwegian. We still have cousins in the Bergen area. If you look at the past prime minister, she looks just like my mom. And I guess she was actually a primary target of the terrorist. Because she's a rabble rouser, just like my mom. It felt like my cousins were attacked. And I guess they probably were.
I was, at first, really heartened by the Oslo mayor's comments about peace and democracy and fighting the hate with love. That's just what we'd say in my faith community, I think.
But there was another thing that crept in to my reaction. Racism. You gotta face the racism. It's not just going to go away with love and fierce adherence to democratic principles. It's just not.
People react in racist ways, people simply are racist. It takes work and education and for goodness sake HONESTY to work through the racism. And I think we've all learned that love isn't enough.
My husband's friends who were adopted from Korea to Norway and the Netherlands tell the story of deep and frequent racism that is completely ignored because--of course--such liberal and educated people simply could not be racist.
But, of course, they are.
We all are, and it's denial that is the biggest most dangerous problem.
Fighting it means naming it, understanding it, and working to learn how to be who we wish to be. It means understanding what it means to be white. You have to come to terms with the underlying feeling that white is normal and everything else is beeeeaaaauuuutiful. Tokenized and marginalized and just not, well, normal.
These are the same things, I believe anyway, that we face in our mostly white, mostly rich, mostly well educated Unitarian Universalist churches. It's not impossible to overcome, but if we ignore it? Then, yes, it is absolutely hopeless.
The Mosaic Report
Building the World We Dream About