Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"The bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963 broke my father's resistance[to desegregation], and his heart...The bombing seemed to seal a permanent judgemeent on the city. 'The shame will be ours forever' editorialized a local newspaper at the time. But Martin Luther King Jr., foresaw ultimate salvation in the tradgedy. 'At the funeral for three of the four girls, he said 'The deaths may well serve as the redemptive force that brings light to this dark city'. And it did. What happened in Birmingham in 1963 not only redeemed the oppressed. It also redeemed my people, although we haven't been able to accept that yet. We haven't yet taken that particular snake out and lifted it aloft in the light- that dangerous unloved thing about us: where we came from, what we did, who we are"- Salvation on Sand Mountain p. 152-153.

When I read this, I remembered a quote attributed to a Holocast survivor- the oppisite of forgetting is not remembering, but justice. People try to say it was a long time ago, or it wasn't my fault. You can't heal a rift so wide and so deep with words like that. The people who have been hurt have kept the memories. We pass them down orally, we pass them down in writing, we pass them down so that we can never forget that our pain is real and that we are just as human as those who hurt us. If you can't remember what has happened before, you can't move forward. We keep these memories not only to save ourselves, but to save you as well.

This is why I laugh at white guilt. People try to disconnect the races so much that they try to say that feeling bad about what you and others have done to people of other races is some sort of pathology. Blow up people's churches, fight for decades to block their being educated with your children, say horrible and nasty things to them to their faces, but god forbid, heaven forbid, you feel a drop of remorse! That remorse gives you strength. When you're connected to the reality that when you hurt someone, that's bad and wrong, you can work to heal that hurt. When you try to disconnect completely from the idea that other people are worth as much as you, you hurt your own humanity.

No comments: