I just spent the last hour watching a seven-year-old interview of Michelle Alexander by Bill Moyers. Over the years I have determined my life to be important for three reasons. First, I will never use my position of privilege and power to harm someone else. Second, when I see someone using their position of power and privilege to harm someone else I will do what I can to stop an injustice. Third, if someone asks me to use my position of power and privilege to help them and I am able, I will help. As a result I’ve been spending time thinking about and praying for guidance and how I may be of service in the Black Lives Matter Movement. As a white male of privilege I’ll tell you I feel like an outsider to this movement. That feeling does not preclude me from a genuine desire to lift others up and help end the racism that exists in our society and culture. I recognize the need for me to ask and listen so that I don’t do more harm than good.
My daughters are now teenagers and I’m learning what it means to be a dad all over again. Raising teenagers takes a much different skill set than raising little ones. I know these ladies are learning how to speak for themselves and exercise their own will and freedom. One of the ways I’ve decided to support this foundation building for my daughters is through reading books together. My ex-wife and her mother have done an amazing job of instilling in my daughters a love for reading. Candidly it has been a struggle for me to transition from being a dad of small children to being a dad of teenagers. I’m finding books can make this transition not only easier but actually hugely beneficial for everyone. My 15-year-old daughter attends one of the most academically rigorous high schools in the country. Their reading lists are equivalent to what I would pick for myself. Very impressive…. A few weeks ago I suggested we read a book together this summer. I had a few suggestions and wanted her to pick what we were going to read. None of the selections I presented held Layla’s interest enough to commit her time. What she did was look for a book that was relevant to what we’re living through today. When she came to me with Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” I could not have been more pleased.
The next several weeks will be spent digesting this important reflection on race in America today. Layla and I will have smart discussions and form ideas about how we can be a part of ending this dark spot in our nation’s history. To come at this subject from a place other than pure curiosity would be a mistake on my part. I have no idea what it means to be black in America and it is important for me to try to understand this position from a position of humility and vulnerability. I have found that true healing can only happen when we are vulnerable with each other, no matter how uncomforatble it may be for me to fully understand. This is not easy and the level of our healing will be directly correlated to how much pain we are willing to endure. Below is a YouTube link to the Moyers interview with Ms. Alexander. I would recommend going to Bill Moyers site. They have an excellent section on “Our Racist Past.” I figure this is a good place to start.