How Much is My Fault?

Students attending the panel discussion on race. (Photo by Reed Schick.)

Students attending the panel discussion on race. (Photo by Reed Schick.)

We have been having and hearing many conversations about race and discrimination recently. I do believe these conversations must happen, but I still don’t always know what to do with them. How much of the problem is my fault? I am white. How much of the problem of white supremacy is my fault? I have privilege that gives me benefits, surely, but how much of it is because of my own doing?

I am a male. How much of the problem of sexism is my fault? I know that I benefit, but I still don’t always know how to combat the discrimination. If repentance for sins of past generations is Biblical, is that the answer? And how much repentance? If repentance for a whole flawed system is Biblical, how much do we repent?

I believe that I am culpable; but isn’t so much of our racism and sexism hidden, subtle, and difficult to pinpoint? If the problem is not just in our minds and what we think and believe, but also in our hearts, how do we change? Once we have had the conversation, where do we go?

If the Bible seems to be either silent or extremely subtle on the topics of race and gender, how do we interpret and apply it to us today, in our context? How much of what the Bible says is cultural and how much of it is transcendent and universally applicable?

My point in writing this article is to say that I am not sure where to go from here. After hearing all of these conversations, I still do not exactly know what to do. My theory is that when most people are silent on these conversations, it is not that they all disagree with the topic. I think they are silent because they don’t know what to do with the conversation — they don’t know what comes next. They don’t know where they fit into the problem, or how they might factor into the solution.

When we talk about race or gender discrimination, I often feel stuck. I hear the problem, but I don’t hear a clear solution. In having these discussions, I think there needs to be more talk of “next steps.” We need to talk more about moving forward, rather than just describing where we are. I understand that what has been said in recent panels and events is necessary, but it is not adequate, in my opinion. There needs to be more talk of practical and visible measures we might take to remedy these problems.

I am simply asking, “What comes next?” “What part have I played, and what should I do now?” I would appreciate responses to this. I know the answer must begin with the Bible, in passages such as Micah 6:8 which says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

I don’t want to just do nothing, which is the easiest and possibly most common response to these discussions. I know I have had this response plenty of times, but I would like people to help direct me to more helpful and healthy responses. Though it is easy to ignore these issues on our somewhat secluded campus, we will only be here for a short time. These problems and discussions won’t go away. We will have to address them more fully at some point, if not on this campus. I certainly don’t have the answers, but I’m willing to ask the questions.