September 2017 Nurses Notes
This is not going to be my typical back to school nurses note. I’m writing this August 16, 2017. Let me share my Facebook post from Monday, August 14: “I am heartsick. And angry. This is not a “liberal rant”, this is the pain of love and awareness. John and I have a young friend who is from Uganda and we love him as our own. He came to the US for college, is here legally and currently employed full time with Bethany Christian Services. He came for Sunday dinner and we had a wonderful day together. The subject of Charlottesville came up and how the current administration may embolden racist activity. His response? “We must pray for them.” I had worried about him when he was in Washington, DC at the time of the election, but really didn’t think I needed to around here. Not that I didn’t think racism didn’t exist in my neck of the woods, but I surely didn’t ever consider that it was overt or would be acted upon. Then, I got the call that no mama wants. He said “I had a situation in Schoolcraft at the gas station” He is physically fine, he wasn’t physically hurt during this “situation”. As he was pumping gas, a pick-up pulled up next to him with the white occupants looking at him chanting “Trump! Trump! Trump!” and one said that he, the speaker, was the redneck we’d been warned about. They continued to harass him as he pumped his gas until he drove off. No one intervened on his behalf. Fortunately, these ‘men’ did not follow him. I will have more to say on this subject when I am more calm. This showed me I have been silent too long.”
No one should be afraid to go to a gas station.
I’m not going to get into the politics of conservative vs. liberal, but of love and following Jesus Christ vs. following the world. I was one of those naïve white country people who came up during the sixties and believed that racism was behind us. I remember the peace marches, the riots, the assassinations of that era. I was in Chicago the day after Dr. King was assassinated. It was a scary time. But love and perseverance overcame hate. Or so I thought. I live in a quiet rural area where there is not much diversity, so not much reason for racism to present itself. I started hearing more rumblings about nine years ago and they became louder during the presidential campaign. We started hearing about the KKK again. A new group to me was the Alt-right. Hate was out of the closet, but still not in my back yard. So, I was upset and concerned, but not totally UPSET. Nothing like that would ever happen here. It has. More often than those of us living protected and yes, privileged, white lives want to believe. It shouldn’t have had to happen within ten miles of my home to someone I love to open my eyes and break my heart. I feel shame that it did.
To understand what white privilege is, consider the following questions: Have you ever wondered why leaders where you work, in government or your church are not the same race as you? If you had to move, how worried would you be about your new neighbors accepting you? Will people judge you differently if you wear your natural hairstyle? What if you wear a hoodie? If you go with four or five friends to Meijers, will people be uneasy and will someone from the store follow and watch you? Would you be comfortable going to a church where the members are primarily or totally a different race? Have you ever been afraid to pump gas at a local gas station?? I remember having a partial awareness of white privilege as a child, wondering how I got so lucky to be born white and not have to fight to have a decent education, clean water, feel safe. We often can’t see white privilege because we aren’t often exposed to how minorities are treated. It’s better than it was when I was a child, but it’s back in a much more obvious and fearless way than it was say, fifteen years ago. See: https://sojo.net/articles/our-white-friends-desiring-be-allies. Hate groups have expressed their belief since the events at Charlottesville, that they have the support of the president. Whether you believe that or not, that’s their perception and they are acting on it.
So, what are you going to do about it? What would Jesus do?
Christine Friedel, R.N., Parish Nurse