(I have been struggling to articulate my vey complex history and journey with regard to being Southern and not main stream. I am working on a series of posts with regard to my contextual sense of urgency around deconstructing institutional racism)
A commentary about racism and religion by Allison Mahaley, a Southerner
I spent 12 years teaching in public schools in Alamance and Durham Counties and three years as an administrator in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina. In ALamance, I have to admit, I understood the unspoken, insidious oppression of black children – unless they were star athletes. I felt from outside the school, though. Inside the school, we knew we were fighting for those kids’ very lives. In Chapel Hill, I bumped up against a very different kind of racism. There it was an angry undercurrent of privilege and permission. In Durham, it was just flat out crazy combinations of gang-bangers and Grandmas driving jaguars, and working class-folks all shoved together.
I live in Orange County now – my little Hillsborough has gotten embroiled in a fight over Confederate Memorials. And finally both ends of Orange County are examining racism. And it is super-complicated. White people are finding out just how bad its been, and black people are like “really, you didn’t know?” Down in Chapel Hill people think it is more liberal because of the higher concentration of transplanted Northerners, but locals like to give the university credit. Northern Orange folks know that the liberals only give lip-service to equity, they have vested interest in keeping staff on low wages, and off their streets – that means blacks are squeezed out of the housing market. In many ways, both sides are wrong on this count. Racism transcends region and locale; it permeates every aspect of our public and private sector; and it dictates narratives in the minds of every single person who is American. I have long said the question is not “Am I a racist?” in America the Question is “How am I racist?”– if you are not constantly or at least sometimes checking out your point of view with people who don’t look like you, think like you, or value things you value – you are stock-piling a whole bunch of prejudice. Learn to listen and open up your mind. Now since Charleston stopped us all dead in our tracks, everyone is being pushed to decide, do #BlackLivesMatter? –I think that Dylan Roof having the audacity to gun down 9 prominent African-Americans while they were studying the Holy Bible has particular significance in the conversation.