But Still…I’m Sorry

June 24, 2015

I’ve never considered myself a racist.

I could give you the list of evidences of my lack of racism…but the very fact that I could construct a list would probably be more of an indictment than an exoneration. And the evidence of racism in me would probably be much more about what I have not done rather than what I have done.

I haven’t gone out of my way to get acquainted with and learn from people of different heritage than mine. I haven’t cultivated relationships with people that have a vastly different American experience than my own. It’s not that I have avoided them…I just haven’t pursued them.

I haven’t made Sunday mornings the most segregated moments in our society. But still…I’m sorry.

I have been involved in a conversation today that has stirred up some things in me – mostly sorrow over the ways I have failed my neighbors by failing to take steps to make things better.

My mind goes back to the prayer of Daniel as he cried out to God about the sins of the people of Israel (Daniel 9). Daniel was praying a prayer of repentance for the sins of the generations that had gone before him, but he said, “we have sinned, we have done wickedly,” (Daniel 9:15). He was repenting of the culture of injustice that had become the norm in Israel.

It wasn’t Daniel that had done these things in particular. But Daniel repented for the sins of his fathers that had gone before him.

Like Daniel, I feel the burden to confess and repent. I didn’t commission slave ships or insist upon separate schools or restrooms or restaurants. I didn’t force the Trail of Tears. I didn’t actually do any of the horrific acts of injustice perpetrated upon minority people groups. I didn’t insist that separate was sufficient.

I didn’t do it. But still…I’m sorry.

I’m ashamed of the jokes I’ve heard without stopping them and the prejudices I was afraid to call out. I’m ashamed that my forefathers committed such tragically wicked acts of injustice – at times even in the name of our God. I’m ashamed that, by acting like racism wasn’t an issue any longer, I failed to fight against it.

I can’t make it all better, but I can do something. And it starts with repentance.

I didn’t do it. But still…I’m sorry.

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