“To perpetuate privilege and oppression, we don’t have to do anything consciously to support it. Just our silence is crucial for ensuring its future, for the simple fact is that no system of privilege can continue to exist without most people choosing to remain silent about it…As such, we can only choose how to be involved- whether to be part of the problem or also to be part of the solution. That’s where our power lies, and also our responsibility.” ~ Allan Johnson
These words are posted on the Un-Fair Campaign’s website and capture one of the most important reasons why talking about race and racism is so important. We have to make a decision. We have to choose today whether or not we are on the side of race and its prejudices. And our inaction is the worst action of all. In our silence, there is agreement and participation. It is when we choose not to speak about race and its progeny that we say the most. Our tongues have given race power and influence. It is with our tongues that we have built up race and a foundation made of a closed mouth is much sturdier than an open one.
But, it is also with the tongue that we can tear it down. It can serve as a wrecking ball. Sacred Scripture tells us that “the power of life and death is in the tongue”; its strength can be found in our very mouths (Proverb 18.21). However, often it seems that after we give life to a concept or idea, we forget that we also have the power to bring about its demise. We incorporate it into our laws and systems of governance, family and culture, present circumstances and future predictions. We allow what we’ve created to get out of our hands, unable to be molded or destroyed after we have given it systemic power and influence. Sadly, we have yet to understand the great creative force that is the tongue or that in destroying, we are also creating.
Today, I am encouraged to have found yet another running partner, a track mate as I journey toward racelessness. It is my prayer that I would find others who are not afraid to talk about race and more importantly, to talk back to race, to not only ask questions about racism but to question, to interrogate race. Oh, I feel like running on today “to see what the end will be”!