Friday, September 27, 2019

wonder woman


"How do you spell racism?" 

The wooden, extra sharp #2 pencil was cradled in her light-blue-chipped-nails hands. She was responding to the big brick community center content table's writing prompt for this Wednesday: "If you could meet any famous person--past or present-- who would it be and why?"

I'd finally sat down at the table. Before, I stood by the edge as yellow-shirt boy and blue-shirt little man spewed out idea cradled by question pushed into competition. "I have Spiderman!" "I want Thor." "Black Panther is mine" "No, he's mine!" "Wait, who has the Hulk?"

Fueling their superhero subdivision, I found myself energized by their energy and energized them right back.

How did I get here?

Well, in a car. A classified luxury sedan little infiniti. I'd had a quick phone call with the founder while slipping away from my corporate marketing job to the podcast room to fit in time to talk. He'd had twelve kids over to his house for dinner the night before. He'd had four show up on his doorstep who he'd impacted in pre-K, who disappeared for years, who now returned and remembered him well into elementary. He'd warned me of the "hard" I might be walking into tonight, and I'd echoed that if it wasn't hard, I'd question if it was real. I'd told him a very tiny bit of my background. Of pastor's kid kid ministry. Of Toxic Charity. Of When Helping Hurts.

The kids were coming back to his house that night. I was walking back through the podcast doors to my cube and a sea of white faces making full-time salaries, a sea I am a wave within.

A while ago, I'd started a phrase. Cynical, yes, but with some truth behind it, yes. I can't stand rich white people. More. I can't stand rich, middle aged blonde white women. Dichotomy much: I am one day likely going to be one.

But she looked up at me, and asked how to spell racism.

To get to the community center, I had to drive my infiniti twelve minutes from my office. About four minutes in, I looked outside and did not see a single rich, middle-aged blonde white woman. I saw people, lots of them. But none shared the shade my skin was born harboring.

Me, who during high school told people--whose fear of being shot kept them from my church's doors--that they were crazy. Me, who rattles off "opulence and excess, American consumerism, and white privilege" as a mini-mantra multiple times a week, who had written and directed a short film called "high-heeled classism," who had culture shock going to my mostly-white college, felt something. It was different this time. Fear. Fear because I was young, driving a rich person car, looking "pretty," alone, and white. I was the only white person I could see. This used to bring me comfort. Now, it brought me unease.

And I was ashamed, immediately. And shocked I had come to a point in my white, churched, cocooned life that I felt discomforted by being a minority.

I told her how to spell racism, and I was wrong. 
But I thought I had spelled it right.

She'd already written other words on her page. She wanted to meet certain people because they brought change in the world. Now, turning away from my distraction as I'd been discussing the levels of achievement belts in plastic recorder school and how many people fit on the brown wood performance stage, was surprised by her question. She'd started on her second sheet and was writing how she wanted to meet Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "because he'd help fighted racism."

And I'd driven here, full-time salaried, in my blue luxury infiniti, scared and uncomfortable.

Lord, I knew I'd needed this.

We randomly got into the spelling thing, you see. Spaghetti, billionaire, kilogram, elevation, caterpillar. We'd basically covered it all. When I asked her if she knew how to spell philanthropist (she didn't, but gave it a valiant fylantrophyst try). I told her that these were people who had lots of money and gave it away. I asked her who she'd give away her money to if she had a lot. She said to the homeless, here in Nashville and then everywhere. Then she'd help give more people money so they could have homes too. And then help them go to college. We reviewed what a philanthropist was again, and she blinked her eyes up at me. Paused. "Are you one?" I'd like to think it was because I appeared giving, but my counterthought tells me it's because I appeared stereotypical white-rich.

They loved. Little speller playing with my hair, purple shirt boy with the Vans like mine and yellow-shirt superhero friend continually coming back to me to recall the names in his superhero clan. He finished his paper, closed it, wrote a name, and proudly looked up at me: "It's for you, Wonder Woman." And he meant it.

Wonder Woman.

A woman who appears like a wonder -- a young white face in a blazer and high-top Vans in a sea of chocolate. A woman who probably represents a lot about the world that makes them wonder-- the demographic of paper-shade humans who don't know how to spell racism, who drive infinities, who lock their doors when they're on streets they usually avoid.

A woman wondering-- wondering how she got back to the place where she stopped giving out. Where she stopped purposefully putting herself in situations of discomfort. When she just frankly became too busy to engage with the real, "hard," tangible needs of kids who might show up on your doorstep after years and who might just end up joining you at dinner that night.

I had an hour before I had to go to my church for high-school ministry, as usual. A church thankfully not fully white and privileged. But I drove in my car, and prayed a prayer.

I'm more busy now then I've been hardly ever, but I've been praying that the Lord would give me the time and energy for what matters. And His peace is so here.

Lord, break my world.
Lord, break into my world as you break my heart for what breaks yours.

Because I can't unsee it. And I've seen it before, but I live a privileged situation where I can avoid it: need, real need. Pain of people living less than ten minutes away.

"Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did" (1 John 2:6).

That's been yellow sticky-noted to my mirror for weeks. That's my true impetus. I want to be where Jesus would be. I want to walk where He walks. I want to love like He loves. I want to fight for change like is in the heart of our good, good Father. I want to live a life that screams I love Jesus so much that I can't help but love people that much too.

But some things I know. We're not "the saviors," and they're not "the needy." We don't have "the answers," and they have "the problems." Why do we even "we" and "they" so much? We're all humans; and we all need. We miss out on so much of life if we miss each other.

And this isn't about a quest for a white girl to find out about black people and brown people and yellow people. I don't have answers, and I don't want to feed my "do good ego." I want to love. I want to spend my life. I want to go be about Jesus-work. And Jesus-
work does not let me remain any longer in my bubble. I want to chase God's heart.

God, make me uncomfortable.
God, shatter my comfort.
God, show me more of your heart and craft me into being more of your hands.
God, let me feel the hurt.
God, I repent.
God, I have so much to learn.

A woman wondering, I'll be.

1 comment:

I definitely don't want this to be a monologue. What are your thoughts? Questions? Ideas?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...