It starts with me!

I’m white, male, middle-aged and privileged, in the midst of a broken, hurting, unjust world. This reality can all too easily lead me towards comfortable choices, unhelpful attitudes and patronising positions.

And that’s why I know I need to keep praying: “Lord, change me!”

I’m sure like me you’ve been dismayed by another horrible example of race-based violence in the US, which has sent shockwaves around the globe, including drawing attention again to indigenous racism and disadvantage in Australia.

And while I want to be be heard on these matters; while I want to continue to be a voice for change, I have been challenged afresh this week – that change must always begin with me!

As much as I may not like to admit it, I can be guilty of racism. I can be bigoted, I can judge others who look and think differently to me. I can see the world through a white man’s eyes, when I need to learn more and more about how things look in another person’s shoes; particularly those who live with systemic injustice; something I have never experienced.

In the midst of tragedy and turmoil in the US, which has coincided with National Reconciliation Week in Australia, I have felt the tension in my gut …. I want and need to do more, but I have to keep reminding myself that racism always begins with me!

So, Lord hear my prayer:

Help me to keep looking, learning and listening. Help me to keep hearing the voices of those whose skin colour is different to mine.

Help me to hear the wisdom and lament of people like Aunty Ravina, or the cries of the faithful pastor of a black congregation in Milwaukee. Help me not to forget innocent men and women locked up in detention and portrayed as “evil” by the shock jocks. Remind that even work colleagues of mine in the leafy eastern suburbs of Melbourne confront racist remarks simply because they don’t look like me, particularly in this COVID season. Let me hear again from an indigenous pastor friend who still faces racism week in week out while he serves his community. Help me to look beyond news grabs, quick fixes and slogans. Challenge me to speak up against inappropriate comments and jokes that destroy the dignity of others.

Lord, help me not to jump to conclusions based on ignorance. Foster my curiosity and yearning for truth. Keep rattling my cage, move me out of my comfort zone, challenge narrow attitudes, help me to be a humble voice and advocate for those who everyday are subject to systemic injustice and racism.

Give me courage to speak up and act in ways that aren’t about making me feel good, but make a meaningful difference in a broken world.

“Lord enable us to see the reality of racism and bigotry and free us to challenge and uproot it from ourselves, our society and our world.” – John Bucki

Yes, this week I am challenged and reminded that the uprooting starts with me! And from there, may I humbly and courageously be one small voice in a chorus across the globe standing against entrenched, systemic, hurtful and unjust racism in all its forms.

May we all join this chorus – with humility and authenticity!


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