This emphasis on justice is echoed in the work of Michael Eric Dyson. "Charity is no substitute for justice. If we never challenge a social order that allows some to accumulate wealth—even if they decide to help the less fortunate--while others are short-changed, then even acts of kindness end up supporting unjust arrangements. We must never ignore the injustices that make charity necessary, or the inequalities that make it possible."
In order to bring about justice and reconciliation, Harris and Schaupp provide four stages in their work that can bring about these effects: encounter, friendship, displacement, and white identity.
This first stage in the progression towards reconciliation and a more just society is an encounter. More often than not, the white person will have to go out of their comfort zone in order to encounter a nonwhite person. In this encounter, they should seek to develop a relationship that will engage both the heart and the head. The authors believe that the system has been set up in such a way that the white person does not have to think about race in their head and feel it in their heart, thus it is necessary for them to find those encounters. Once someone moves outside the proverbial comfort zone, one can expect to feel out of their element, which is exactly what needs to happen.
Once past the encounter, with mistakes foreseeable, one enters into the friendship stage. The friendship stage, built upon the commonality shared by two people, allows development to happen past the encounter in such a way that a friendship can form. Using the imagery of arms, Harris and Schaupp note that one person in the relationship opens their arms and waits, in anticipation of the other person coming in close, in order that arms may be closed and trust can be established. In the closeness, conflict and differences are inevitable because both are outside of their comfort zone. However, only in the soil of friendship can grace grow and be extended. As people deal with a conflict, enduring past the conflict towards resolution requires maintaining a listening posture in order to move towards a better place of forgiveness.
Moving past the encounter and entering into the depths of friendship, Harris and Schaupp progress to the third stage, which is displacement. This can happen in a variety of settings, may it be a long-term move to a particular neighborhood or visiting another gym or grocery store across town, Harris and Schaupp root the call to displacement in the biblical narrative.
"We embrace the biblical call to displace ourselves precisely because this is God's pattern for helping us trust him and live out his love. We are not committed to displacement because we find it personally enriching and intriguing to explore other cultures (though it may well be), because we dislike our own culture, or because we hope to fix other people's cultures. We are committed to leaving our comfort zone because this is an important way that Christ is formed in us, and it is the pattern of life in the kingdom of God."
While an encounter is a temporary experience, displacement is a long-term commitment that entails community and deep relationships. This commitment does not entail either party ignoring the color of their skin, but embracing the differences. Colorblindness is an inadequate goal because it ignores the heart language of the individuals, which sets aside the core of people where suffering is located. Thus, the relationship misses the richness that comes with diversity and the suffering together that comes with closeness.
Once the relationship develops depth and richness that comes through displacement and friendship, the final stage of white identity is appropriate. This is the stage where it is now feasible and appropriate to deal with racial reconciliation and progress together towards justice. Viewing racism both at an individual level (where partiality exists among individuals) and at the systemic level (where power joins partiality) the white person can engage in a conversation that seeks to identify the areas of racism, and find the origin.
Displacement is essential in this stage, in that often one does not notice the racist tendencies in one's own culture, because it simply operates as part of the norm. However, when immersed in a multiethnic context, the proclivities and inclinations become apparent.
By displacing one's self in a setting where one is the minority, it provides a multitude of opportunities to address not only individual forms of racism, but also at times the group level. These stages, encounter, befriending, displacing, and working in one's white identity seek to remove both the individual and the group levels of racism.
This is a sensitive topic in our world today. It reminds us that there are pains from the past that have the ability to still cause pain in the present. However, it is time to stop putting band-aids on open wounds. Conferences might raise awareness to problems, but conferences only draw people that know it is a problem. It is quite literally preaching to the choir.
It is going to take individual actions to bring about solutions to these problems. And this can start with you. As Phillip Yancey writes:
"The Christian solution is not a direct answer but an attitude which leads to the correct answer. It is not unlike the attitudes of both partners in a good marriage. Both partners take into account the interests and needs of the other so that their relationship thrives. A marriage in which one partner must acquiesce all the time is not healthy."
This post was written by Nick Pitts. For more information go to: http://www.denisonforum.org/reviews/1500-being-white-finding-our-place-in-a-multiethnic-world