AnonymousDeleted UserDecember 3, 2020 at 6:04 pm
For much of my own life, I have been surrounded by, if not white people, the Japanese-American community, who has historically benefitted from being seen as the “model minority.” I remember seeing homeless people on the street, and being raised to believe that they were there because they simply did not want to work hard; not that systems existed that pushed them to places where they could not be successful.
“Your grandparents were released from the internment camps with only $25 and a bus ticket and the whole country against them because of Pearl Harbor and WWII,” they would tell me. “Yet they worked hard and got back on their feet. Anything is possible with hard work.”
It wasn’t specifically said that the Black and Mexican homeless men that we would see out on the streets of East Los Angeles didn’t want to work hard, but the conversations surrounding welfare reform and immigration made those connections in our family for me with the resonating message: work hard and make something of yourself or you’ll end up on the street.
I didn’t truly understand the idea of power structures and oppression until I came out and began my transition 3 years ago. In fact, much of what I have learned in light of racial injustice came from my work two years ago with the Reformation Project. Knowing that there is a lot of hesitancy and victim mentality that is perpetuated on the part of the conservative Evangelical Church, a lot of the work that I feel led to do is centered around the question of how to best reconcile the two communities together so that lasting change can happen.
That being said, I confess that I am still struggling with the tone that Cone has laid out here, which seems to prioritize the voices of the Black community in faith without leaving room for white voices — which in my view, seems to only perpetuate the inequality by shifting the power from the White community to the Black community. From what I have been experiencing and reading, the goal that I feel is most important is to dismantle structures of power so that we can bring about equality and end the injustices in our world. How is that something we can best accomplish, while also realizing that some of us are still burdened with the baggage that we bring from our more conservative backgrounds?