How Has White Supremacy Formed Me?
by Danny Malec
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and the Lord will say: “Here am I.”
Growing up Catholic, I learned about Lent to be a time of deprivation of sorts. A time of fasting and going without. A time for reflection and penitence – intentionally calling to mind ways that I have caused harm or done wrong and repenting for those things. Lent has taken on more depth as I have grown in my faith and I have found it an important season of cleansing, letting go of those attachments that do not serve or please God, and making room, once again, in my heart and mind to be of service to others.
As I ease into Lent this year, I am struck by the reality that in my 46 years on this earth, never during Lent have I considered my need to repent and heal from white supremacy and systemic racism. Wait, what?!? Lent is a time to pause, so let me pause here for a minute.
I, Danny Malec, have never focused my energy during Lent on repenting and healing from white supremacy and systemic racism! A system that justified and promoted the enslavement of Africans and the genocide of Native Americans. A system that has declared people with one color of skin (the color that I happen to have) superior to people who have other colors of skin. A system that has remained intact for hundreds of years and continues to wreak havoc on my neighbors of color and on communities that I have supposedly “walked alongside” and “served” for decades. A system that has afforded me countless opportunities and literal “get out of jail free” cards at the expense of people of color. And a system that also hurts me, deprives me of the ability to engage my brothers and sisters of color as true equals.
So, during this Lent, I pray. I repent. I seek to remove the plank from my own eye, the stain on my heart, the sickness that has infected me even before birth. Isaiah asks, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”
As I pray, reflect and repent this Lenten season, I ask God, “What is my place in this inherently Christian task of loosing the chains of the injustice of white supremacy?” As a white, cis-gendered, property owning man, husband, and father, what is required of me in order to “untie the cords of the yoke” of systemic racism?
And I ask of you, my fellow Christian community, call me out, invite me in, speak to me about the ways that white supremacy has formed you. And most importantly, let us heal together and be transformed. Let us repent of the ways that we have contributed to the oppression of our “own flesh and blood.” And let us be renewed for the essential Christian task of justice and building God’s beloved community.
During this Lenten season, I come to you with a contrite heart, feeling remorseful for the ways that my life has strengthened the foundations for the yoke of white supremacy. And you and I know, those foundations for white supremacy rest firmly in my own heart and mind. Help me God, to root out white supremacy from my heart and mind. Prepare me for the work of justice, making right for the wrong that I have perpetuated with my thoughts, words, actions and inaction. Heal me dear God and transform my heart and mind into a sanctuary for you and your divine light. In Jesus’ name I pray.