How do I assume goodwill when you fail to notice who I am as you ask me to plunge your overflowing toilets, to park your car, to carry your luggage? How do I assume goodwill when you interrupt me again and again or ignore my requests for help? How do I assume goodwill when you call me out of my name and get angry when I insist who I really am? How do I assume goodwill when you let people of your race step in front of me as if I were invisible, when you fill the glasses of white people first even when they are not thirsty? How do I assume goodwill when you repeatedly “forget” to return my calls?
How do I assume goodwill when you call my godsons “little monkeys,” when you say I am an exception, when you say, “Black people are not intelligent enough to lead our faith,” when you get up when I sit down next to you? How can I assume goodwill when you use poetic license to excuse your use of “nigger” and other racial slurs? How can I assume goodwill when you refuse to witness the pain, the hurt, the erasure of who I am that you contribute to with your thoughtlessness and lack of intention?
You have not consistently shown goodwill when you suggest I was an affirmative action hire, a quota filler, a balm for white guilt. You have failed to demonstrate goodwill when you judge me by my “accent” and my different approaches to faith, community, love, and justice. Is asking me if I write my own sermons “goodwill”? Is assuming I know what all of my kindred of color are thinking and experiencing “goodwill”?
Is interrupting my leadership of worship because you believe you know how to do it better “goodwill”? Is denigrating my efforts to make change so that I may participate in the beloved community “goodwill”?
I cannot assume anything a such when you feel it is your right to touch me without asking. I cannot assume anything when you allow no room for my humanity, my brokenness, my joy, my diverse ways of seeing the world. I cannot assume anything when you welcome me into your spaces with suspicion and fear. I will assume nothing… until you stop assuming about me.
From The Darkness Divine: A Loving Challenge to My Faith (pp. 85-86).
|Kristen L. Harper