Inspiration Journal

White Moderates – Don’t Let History Repeat Itself

White Moderates - Don't Let History Repeat Itself www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Judy Daniell

As a mostly (I’ll get to that later) white girl, from the midwest, who grew up an Air Force Brat, I love my country and those who serve and protect us, but y’all, something’s got to give.

I can’t stay silent and hope that things will change. I need to have conversations. I need to talk every day with my kids, my neighbors, the ones voting for Hillary and the ones voting for the other guy. We need to keep the conversation going. All day, every day.

Maybe social media isn’t the place, especially when so much of my feed lands on one side or the other. Real change, the kind that makes people pause, will not ever come from a meme, or an article, but from a true, passionate discussion about race relations in the U.S.

And to that, I’d like to thank Colin Kaepernick for being the conduit to many of those discussions in my life over the last few weeks. 

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Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. -MLK, Jr, Letter from Birmingham Jail

My very first college term paper was a 15-page literary masterpiece on Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech.” Now, while masterpiece is a bit of a stretch for a paper written when I was 18-years-old, it was definitely the start of inciting a passion in my soul to read as much as I could about racial injustice.

And there were no shortage of topics: The civil rights movement, lynchings, the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, the African slave trade, the internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry…..  

And so I read. I read and read and read. I learned that just because something wasn’t my experience, it didn’t lessen the impact of the experiences of others. 

But, in my adult years, the piece of reading that I find myself coming back to again and again, is Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail“. If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it. This letter was written in response to eight religious leaders who issued a “statement of caution and concern” (or as I like to call it, a plea to not disrupt the status quo by individuals who are benefiting from the maintenance of it). 

In his letter, there is one quote that continues to haunt me, mostly because of it’s pertinence over 50 years later: 

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

White moderate was what jumped out at me.

Was I a “White moderate”? Sure, I’m 50% hispanic, but unless I tell you that, I just seem to tan well in the summer. Not only that, but this letter was written in response to eight religious leaders who issued a statement of “concern and caution”. Religious leaders. The ones who King felt would surely stand by his side at the injustice against black people because of christian conscience.

Nope. That didn’t happen. In fact, King later shared: “…the most pervasive mistake I have made was in believing that because our cause was just, we could be sure that the white ministers of the South, once their Christian consciences were challenged, would rise to our aid. I felt that white ministers would take our cause to the white power structure. I ended up, of course, chastened and disillusioned. As our movement unfolded, and direct appeals were made to white ministers, most folded their hands—and some even took stands against us.” 

And that’s when I began to start unpacking politics from my faith.

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And so history continues to repeat itself.

Colin Kaepernick, who has the audacity to kneel during the national anthem, is staging his own non-violent protest in the wake of racial injustice in the U.S. And while some may think he’s disrespecting our country, the American flag and the U.S. military, I’m going to take him at his word and recognize he’s doing it for the racial injustice that still exists in America. And he gets my support for that. 

Go back and read MLK Jr.’s words from over 50 years ago, I can’t help but hear the same thing today:

“I support Colin, but not his method..”

“I think there’s a better way to raise awareness..”

“Maybe he should actually do something, rather than take a knee..”

But you know what? I’ve had more personal discussions on this topic since he started his peaceful protest. While I don’t think I’ve changed many minds, I’m having productive discussions. And to me, that means we can move forward. 

And right now, in America, we have a race issue. If you do not believe it, turn off the news and start reading some books, start listening to those on the margins. They can tell you, it’s real. 

If you can not, at this exact moment, text a person of color and meet them for coffee, or a drink after work, or invite them to dinner, then I would start with wondering why that is, and then make moves to be in a relationship with people of different cultures, races, and faiths. 

Remember, in every major historical social movement, there were bystanders who stood by and did nothing and said nothing. So, to the white moderates, let us not make the same mistake the southern believers made, where maintaining status quo trumped the joining with our brothers and sisters on the front lines of social change. 

Godspeed.

About the author

Judy Daniell

Reader. Writer. Runner. Loser of things. Lover of Grace. Mama to 3 crazy fun boys and wife to an amazing man. PR by day and Social Media by night. She is the editor at www.goodlifemoms.com and you can find her occasionally blogging at www.judydaniell.com.

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