Monday, January 23, 2017

Didn't Feel Welcome at the Women's March, Conservative White Women? Let's Chat.

It's been a week.  No adjective needed, just a week.  And my inbox and text messages have been full. The reality is that a lot of people want to engage culture and current realities, but all seems so hard and divisive that where do you even start and is it even worth it come up a lot.

I have a dear, dear friend who is one of those people where you can call each other out and say what you need to say without qualifiers and they add them in for you and love you just like you are.  What a gift, right?  Gracious.  And that friendship is so beneficial to me.  It sands down my rough edges, sharpens my intellect, and draws truth out of me in ways surface level friendships never can.  Bless. It.

So we had a big ole discussion via text the last couple of days, because we both have a gaggle of children with a variety of needs and attempting to talk on the phone is a joke and who am I kidding, I hate the phone.

At the end of the conversation she said, "I need you to write this stuff down online so I can share it because my White heart needed to hear it."  I said ok, knowing that right now I have a million reasons that I have no time to write, but that now, more than ever, we need to speak and speak boldly.

So you know, the conversation started with talking about how the Lord created Xanax and mojito recipes are straight from the angels.  This is the kind of spiritual guidance we all need in our lives.

The meat of these discussions (as I've had them with lots of people the last few days) came down to this though, how can conservative Christian women who identify as pro-life, are in traditional marriages, and want equal rights for women engage in our current culture where you seem to have to have one full set of values or another without crossover.

The answer is that there is no simple answer.  But I do know this.  I don't need to fight to defend my heterosexual marriage.  No one has ever tried to make constitutional amendments against it nor have they used laws to try to nullify it.  I know that for the 400 years since Pilgrims landed on Plymoth Rock my Whiteness has never worked against me and my ancestors.  I know that no one in power is trying to keep me from being able to adopt, have children, or practice my religion.  So while my rights matter, they are not under attack.

But lets talk a little more about this divide.  Conservative Christian pro life women are not generally well received in the circles such as those represented at the Women's March.  In many cities they marched openly without issue, but there was hubbub before the march about a pro life group and their participation.  To many, that looked like the organizers of the march drew a line in the sand.  But I want to point something out.  They didn't draw a line, the line has existed for 400 years and was drawn by the White Church and we have to acknowledge that.

The history of the Church in America in regards to civil rights is horrifying.  Slave auctions would be held on Sunday afternoons so that church goers could easily attend.  Christians owned slaves.  Christians fought against abolitionists.  Christians would fight in the Confederacy to uphold state's rights to keep slavery legal.  Post-emancipation, lynchings would be held on Sunday afternoons so that church goers could partake and take photos and send postcards of the event to their friends.  White Christians would not allow Black Christians to sit next to them in pews or lead them in worship to the point that Black people had to form their own churches.  White people have tagged, shot up, bombed, and burned down those buildings.  White Christians started suburban private schools because they didn't want to participate in school desegregation.  They became associated with the Republican party at that time because the party promised to fight to let them stay segregated.  Years after the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, the same group that rallied Evangelicals around school segregation would start to lose their grip on the group, so they changed the platform to be a version of pro-life that said the only moral, ethical, and Christian opinion is to want to make abortion illegal.  And they succeeded in keeping their new voting block in the Republican party.

This is our history Whiter Christians.  So, White Conservative women have a lot of work to do before they will be safe to invite to marches such as the Women's March.  There is so much warranted hurt.  Imagine a man cheats on his wife and abuses her for 50 years.  Slowly, he decides to let up on that abuse in some areas.  Do you think she should now actually trust him?  Should she actually believe that he now wants to seek her good?  It won't be until he completely empties himself of his own desires and works for her best for years and years that she will maybe, slowly be able to believe that he might be safe.  Church, you are the abusive husband and our sisters of color, our LGBTQ sisters, our undocumented immigrant sisters who were marching on Saturday are the abused wife.

So when I say we have work to do, its no joke.  We still worship and live and go to school in segregated and unequal spaces.  81% of White Evangelicals voted for a man who confessed to sexual assault and then denied it happened, called immigrants from Mexico rapists, wouldn't allow Black people to work for him in positions the public could see them, called for increased militarization of police forces in minority communities, and vowed to remove provisions that have kept our most vulnerable populations able to access healthcare.

Until the Church can say, "not on my watch" for years or maybe even generations, little will change.  And those we have abused do not owe us safety at their marches.  We have to take a long suffering view on this.  Reconciliation may not happen in our lifetime, but if we don't lay serious groundwork now, our children will be fighting these same battles and seeing the same lines drawn in the sand.

Righting those wrongs might not mean attending the Women's March for you.  Which is fine, really!  Make that choice, but please don't respond by further building walls and considering yourself as discriminated or persecuted against for not feeling welcome.  There are lots of marches and rallies and community events to attend that work to bridge these divides and you are welcome to participate however you can.

For me though, I chose to march.  And I choose to speak out.  And that has meant being ostracized in some of my circles, but giving up a little bit of my privilege and comfort so others can have fundamental rights is not a price to pay, but an offering to give.

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