The Moral Crisis of the Fourth of July (A White Reflection and Call to Action)

I recently heard Jennifer Harvey speak about her book “Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation”. Harvey held my rapt attention, had my pen glued to paper fervently trying to record every one of her awesome, prophetic words. She said many things that really stuck to my ribs in their truth and potency, but the thing that will particularly stay with me is, “To be white is to exist in a state of profound moral crisis.”Declaration-of-Independence_merciless-Indian-Savages-506x600

I feel this especially on days like today: the fourth of July. I write this from my in-laws’ cabin in Wisconsin, where family has gathered over the weekend to enjoy the lake, share meals and play games. I see this with renewed enthusiasm through the eyes of my cousins who are seven and five. For them, the phrase “we’re at the cabin” is meant to invoke a feeling of Sabbath—here, we don’t have to take off our shoes as we run outside to inside, we can jump on the beds in the basement, and there is a spaciousness of imagination that I can only attempt to recover as an adult. I enjoy the time as well: two days ago, I saw a family of turkeys and four baby raccoons as I was walking down the winding lakeside roads. I’m also having cheeseballs for breakfast.

How do I reconcile this seemingly joyous time with the bloody history of our country—the reason we all have the days off? There is so much privilege inherent to our time together. Additionally, I struggle with how to name systemic racism, the fact that our country was built on the cultural genocide (and plain genocide) of Native American and African people and how that (so starkly seen in recent events) continues to live out and how our time at the cabin is not separate, not a vacation from that reality. Continue reading