Thursday, June 25, 2015

Waking Up White

I have been in a writing workshop all week.  Each morning, we find a prompt posted on the board.  We begin the class with 15 minutes of silence while we write in response to the prompt.  This morning, the prompt was "Waking Up White."  Here is what I wrote.

I wake up white every morning.  I go to sleep white every night.  I have white parents.  I have a white sister.  I am married to a white man.  I am white.  But, last week, when Emmanuel AME Church was shot to bits, I remembered that while white is my reality, white is not my highest identity.  That insight accompanied me into a worship service last night held in our sanctuary with our sister church, a predominantly African-American church that is quite literally on the other side of the tracks.

This service had been my bright white idea, and I was not sure what to expect.  Would the spirit be friendly?  Would the atmosphere feel forced?  Would the pews be empty?  I did not know.

I took shelter in my office to prepare.  I robed up - I love my robe - and whispered a prayer for whatever was to come next.  As I walked through the narthex, I saw right away that we were running out of bulletins.  The place was packed.

Packed with people who wake up white.  Packed with people who wake up black.  Packed with people who wake up as NC State fans, and packed with people who follow Virginia Tech.  Packed with people with ipads and packed with people toting pens and paper.  Packed with people carrying children and packed with people who were alone.  Packed with people who lead in the community and packed with people who struggle to leave home.  Packed with people who protect and packed with people who report.

And those packed people stood, at times taking each other's hands, praying and singing, "It is well.  It is well with my soul."  Over and over again.  "It is well with my soul."  Their voices repeated the phrase louder and stronger until our old church windows shook with grief and hope.

I wake up white every day.  But, last night, I woke up to so much more.

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