First of all, I’m not a racist. That’s what I want people to believe about me, and that’s what I tell my white friends. What I tell my black friends is . . . Wait a minute, I don’t have black friends. If by friends one means close acquaintances in whom I confide and invite to the dinner table or the front porch to sip a local brew or to uncork a bottle of wine, then this is my reality: I don’t know any black people well enough to have them over on a regular or occasional basis!
This is odd, seeing I live on a predominately black street.
Here are some basic (Grand Rapids, MI) demographics concerning the side of the block on which we live and the side across the street. There are 25 houses: 18 houses are rentals, most with 2 units. As single-family homeowners, we are the minority.
This is also true of our whiteness. As far as I can approximate (and this changes monthly as renters come and go), there are 12 white people living on our street, 57 blacks, and 10 hispanics. Including my housemate Jody, I know 9 people by their first name.
Additionally, my unofficial survey reveals there are far too many untethered dogs. I swear, if a certain scruffy, rat-like mutt squats in my tomato patch one more time, the world is going to be relieved of one canine. I will not mourn the loss.
It’s no surprise that racism is alive and robust. As a nation, we don’t seem to be any closer to admitting the causes or addressing the solutions.
I don’t have any answers either. All I know is that I’m tired of reading Facebook posts, and I’m weary of people and pundits talking past each other.
As a modest step in the direction of reconciliation and understanding, we’re going to bake bread. Really good bread. Wholesome bread. Organic bread. Not the Wonder Classic White crap either! Bread that’s even better than the photo I took. Then, we’re going to pass it out to all our neighbors—Blacks, Hispanics, Whites—and let them know that we’re glad we live on the same street with them. Maybe really good bread will contribute to ending racism.
There is only one miracle of Jesus recorded by all four Gospel writers: the multiplication of bread in Galilee whereby several thousand people were filled. Who’s to say such miracles can’t happen again . . . and again?
“Give us this day our daily bread. In our eating and sharing of it, may we starve our racism.”