My disbelief and astonishment at Kavanaugh’s advancement seems silly now. It’s clear now that my perspective before Kavanaugh was directly tied to my whiteness. It’s the whiteness that gave me privilege—and blinders.
I say this as a white woman who has already done a fair amount of work on understanding white privilege—as someone who has studied history and actively worked on grassroots engagement and advocacy on issues including environmental racism, racial justice, and immigration and detention. As white people go, I’m more woke than most. But still…the blinders were real.
The Kavanaugh episode showed me that the people in power in our government—people who are mostly white and mostly men and mostly wealthy—are not just indifferent to me and the issues and the people I care about. They don’t just have different starting perspectives about what’s best for our country, and they aren’t just swayed or blinded by connections with political party, big money, and corporations.
No. The mostly white, mostly male, and mostly wealthy people in power are actively opposed to me and the issues and the people I care about. Continue reading
In the wake of U.S. election results, Americans attending COP22 started getting a lot of questions from their global colleagues: What do we think of the president-elect? What positions will he take? Who will he appoint to be in his Cabinet? But mostly—since we were at a conference focused on international cooperation on dealing with our shared planetary climate crisis—the question was: “What does the election mean for U.S. action on climate change?” Continue reading
If a person of learning participates in public affairs and serves as judge or arbiter, she gives stability to the land… But if she sits in her home and says to herself, ‘What have the affairs of society to do with me?…. Why should I trouble myself with the people’s voices of protest? Let my soul dwell in peace!’—if she does this, she overthrows the world. -from Midrash Tanhuma, Mishpatim 2
I wish there was no need to protest, that there was no tar sands oil pipeline threatening to encroach upon sacred burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux or to imperil the safety of water for whole communities. But the strength, dignity, and purpose displayed by Native water defenders under intense pressure—including violence from highly militarized authorities—inspires my respect. The excited shouts from defenders as they see buffalo approaching on the horizon brings me tears of joy. Watching white religious leaders from across the country answer the call to stand in solidarity with Native leaders—knowing this nation’s history of systematic abuse, oppression, and extermination of Native peoples perpetrated by Whites—moves me deeply and gives me hope for something new. Continue reading
Some of my white ancestors came to what is now the United States of America in the mid-1650’s, fleeing religious persecution in Europe. Their presence in this land implicates them in what white people did to the native peoples who once lived here. It probably implicates them in what white people did to Africans who were brought here and enslaved, too. Continue reading
It was cold and windy on the last morning of our trip to the Rio Grande Valley. We sat at a wooden table toward the back of the restaurant, warming ourselves with coffee and eating breakfast tacos. Cindy took notes as our companions, the pastor of an Eagle Pass church and two of his parishioners, spoke about their community and some of its most pressing challenges. For two hours, they spoke of crushing poverty, immigration issues, violence across the border, disparities in local schools, and the lack of effective community leadership.
For those two hours, I understood nothing, nada.
Well, maybe I understood un poquito—a little bit. I took Spanish in college, but that was… ahem… a while ago now. Continue reading
As I write this, I am sitting at my kitchen table while my ten-year old, home from school today with a fever, watches a movie upstairs. It is a bright, beautiful fall day in Austin, Texas—and part of me wants to turn off my computer and my cell phone, make a pot of soup, and sit on the couch under the covers with my son. Maybe I’ll do those things later.
Now, though, I’m watching my news feed for more stories about last week’s floods in Southeast Austin, receiving texts from a friend who is speaking today at the EPA Listening Session in Dallas about carbon pollution standards for existing power plants, and thinking about the role of faith communities in climate preparedness. It’s been a busy couple of travel-filled months for me, and some of the stories I’ve heard from people are swirling about in my head. Continue reading
I was on a chartered bus with about 40 other people—Christians, Jews, Muslims, Unitarian Universalists, one Buddhist, and one Wiccan priest. We were united in being people of faith, in being mostly white and middle class, and in touring part of Newark, New Jersey as part of the Environmental Justice retreat of GreenFaith’s Fellowship Program. Continue reading