Tuesday, July 21, 2009
overcoming and overcome
Anyone who stays here long enough has to make peace with the South.
This was my thought after watching Prom Night in Mississippi last night. I wanted to be appalled at what I saw, but rather than being shocked by the racism and distrust, I was appalled at how familiar the scenes were. The poverty; the pretty, outspoken, abandoned white girls; the rebelliously judicious white boys; the talented and overlooked black students; the angry parents. And - saddest of all - the apathetic crowd, who were both dubious of their parents' racism and uninspired to live differently. It's all very familiar.
And it reminded me how, if you choose to stay in Alabama, at some point you have to make peace with it. The racism is now more covert; it shows up now in real estate sales, declining public education, socially segregated churches. Most of all, it shows up in jokes and comments, in homes losing their value when "the blacks" move in, in refusing to shop in certain W@l-m@rts because of their proximity to "black" neighborhoods. The laws have changed, but the distrust remains.
I watched that movie and asked God to show me my role in overcoming racism in my city. Sticking my head in the sand is most comfortable; by living in a more integrated neighborhood (albeit undervalued as a result) and shopping in the stores in my area, it is easy for me to forget about The Great White Flight that has sent most of Montgomery's white citizens east or north (to the suburbs). My life may not reflect the values of the city, but this is still where I live. How do I avoid apathy? How can my life be a part of what is healing and good in the South?
That's what's on my mind today.