I was surprised

I grew up in the American South, in the world of white evangelicalism. I attended their churches and youth camps, trained for ministry at their schools, preached at their churches. For a long time, I felt like a beloved part of that world. At one point, I even imagined myself making a career in it; maybe I’d start a church, or write Christian books, or teach theology. All of that changed – my relationships with them, my relationship with Christianity, even my life ambitions – as I embraced the antiracist movement. I was surprised to see some of the people I loved most become my most ardent opponents. When I began looking for my place in that necessary revolution, most of my white friends at the time made it their business to stand in my way.

I was surprised by this. I’d always assumed that if those former white friends had lived through a revolution for racial justice – the Civil Rights Movement, for example – they would have been on the frontlines beside their Black loved ones. Beside me. But the apocalypse would reveal many uncomfortable truths to me about white America through those relationship  Namely, that most white people are too deeply entrenched in anti-Blackness, and too invested in white power, to be good neighbors to Black peple or valuable partners in the pursuit of racial justice.

I don’t just mean white people who use the N-word or march in white nationalist protests. I mean well-meaning, I-don’t-have-a-racist-bone-in-my-body white people, who nevertheless cross to the other sidewalk when they see a Black man walking toward them, or call the police on Black folks for doing suspicious things like barbecuing in a public park, or let the N-word “slip” through their lips when they get angry enough. White people with “plenty of Black friends” who nevertheless bristle when their daughters bring a Black man home. White folks who would die if labeled racist but also feel America needs saving by men like Donald Trump. 

From “All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep: Hope – And Hard Pills to Swallow – About Making Black Lives Matter” By Andre Henry