Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Confessing My Whiteousness

"The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost." 1 Timothy 1:15, NRSV

If I'm understanding my walk behind Jesus correctly, I believe God values diversity and difference, and created a world where we all depend on each other.  And if so, I certainly have sinned and fallen 
short of living into the design that God deems best.

I confess my Whiteousness.

I confess that I have pushed my way to the front of the line because my day and my plans tower in comparison to yours.

I confess that I like "not taking no for an answer" and enjoy the challenge of convincing you to give me my way because I believe I am a good person.

I confess that I have leaned on my own Plan A and have not even considered yours, much less paid attention to God's Spirit.

I confess that upon first being heartbroken by the conditions you find yourselves in, I believed I had the power and the intelligence to solve your problems without any input from you.

I confess that sometimes I don't want to think about being white, that I'd rather chill on Netflix with super heroes who usually look just like me.

I confess that when my neighbor said we should move if you move into the neighborhood because of the "element" you'd bring, I pondered if she might be correct.

I confess that I have loved the art of your cultures often more than I have loved you or your bodies.

I confess that I celebrated the election of Barack Obama as an arrival instead of a good step in the right direction, and that celebration made me lazy.

I confess that I have wondered what you're up to, and I confess not wanting to share.

I confess that I have wanted to help you become like me, instead of making more space for you to be you.

I confess that I have tried to be like you, so that you'll like me and forget that I am white.

I confess that I have an addiction to power and that there is no full cure from my Whiteousness, only lifelong recovery.

I confess that I have silently judged your sagging pants, your militant attire, and your unfriendliness as aggressively combative instead of a necessary mode of survival.

I confess buying clothes that I like because they fit well, overlooking where or by whom they might be made.

I confess that I have called you Japanese or Asian before even asking you.

And I confess that on bad days as a teacher, I wished more of you were Vietnamese instead of black.

I confess trying to be like Jesus to you instead of learning how to follow Jesus with you.

I confess feeling like you have been racist towards me when I full well knew that the other job I applied for is just as viable as the one you didn't give me.

I confess that I have hated my own body, the body God has given me, because it must experience uncomfortable feelings when I am around you.

And yet, God is good and true and creative and righteous.

You fed me with stories from the other side of 8 mile, stories of faith amidst despair.

You fed me crawfish and étouffée and teased me when I kept mispronouncing Pho.

You expected me to read your poetry and critique its form but never its subject matter.  

You expected me to trust you.

You fed me fried grasshoppers that she brought back from Mexico, and smiled.

You took me to your church and told me I don't have to close my eyes when I pray.

You told me to let it go, that a party is better at the end than at the beginning.

You prayed for me.

You let me pet your dog Trixie.

You let me in on a secret or two.

You taught me how to make flan and tamales before your car accident.

You helped me load my car and sent me off with Sweet Potato Pie.

Your voices sang to me on the top of Runyon Canyon after I cried out, "God why have you left me on my own?"

You proclaimed joy for your brown skin, your black hair, your way of talking and singing and moving through this world and invited me to love my white skin, my blonde hair, my movements.

You held me when I cried.  You held me when I sobbed.  You waited until I laughed.

You asked me to not forget.

You invited me into your home, to sit at your table.

You walked by my side towards the New Jerusalem, and we could almost hear the singing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone



    I think part of the challenge here is the white man telling/ suggesting how to dismantle whiteness because that is part of the longstanding issue: white voices in power telling others how to or not to X.

    1. Yep, I agree, and it's the fine line I'm trying to walk. But many of my friends of color are also saying that they are tired of asking white people to rethink their attitudes. They'd rather white people ask themselves to look at themselves from within. So: this blog is actually a white man asking other white people to reconsider.

    2. And my aim is to make space for other voices too. Like yours, like Cedric's. Send me stuff.

    3. From NICK:

      Good stuff, Matthew John Schmitt. My experience has been the opposite. But your point is well taken.

    This is amazing and such a necessity! This type of dialogue should be every community's priority. Keep up the awesome work!


    Matthew John Schmitt, I think your mind and heart are so well formed for this. There are few white people I'd listen to on this subject. But I think you're on to some good stuff here especially in light of your experiences.

    1. Thanks man. Pray please for me to not be too Whiteous about it myself. Remind me of my post on confessing my Whiteousness. :). I'm really trying to show solidarity and use my voice to encourage space for non-white voices to not continue to be so discredited by my white brothers and sisters.


    Any dialogue is better than what we've have had since 1863...insert crickets!

    I would rather make a mistake during a period of honest dialogue than have another period of stagnation as long as 1863 to 2016--and counting.


    Dare I say:


    What I liked most about your post is the actual ability to pay close attention to our culture! Something that should, and would be helpful, for "us" to explain at a table with food. It's that observation you so keenly see about our frustration and our need for pure unadulterated joy, no matter the situation. It's that spirit that we have, as brown, black, or African-American (whatever "we" are) to say, "Hey, relax. We get to the gumbo party when we get there. You ain't gon miss anything whether it's a fight with my cousin June Bug, or my Aunt Schochie (skoo Chee) kicks out my uncle for being drunk. Or, whether someone asks, "who's the white boy?" I got you! You came with me! It's not a lynching, they really wanna know who you are and are you cool."

    Or, in other words, we have enough areas in our life where we caint b ourselves (or even spell words wrong on f'in purpose). Let us relax at our own Gumbo party!


    And if you came to join in then we all got your back as we explain what your eating the best food from our people. You came, you were brave, we respect that. And you will be teased with jokes. So yeah, it's ok if we're late! I got you.

    Keep writing, white boy at mile 15 (that's 7 past the 8 mile marker).

    Set tables, maybe in the future we keep setting them across the country while promoting our book. "Fight at a Gimbo Party"