Dear Black Neighbor,

I have sinned against you—in thought, in word, in deed. I am truly sorry.

 #BlackLivesMatter—Brussels

#BlackLivesMatter—Brussels

I have sinned against you in thought. I have thought ill of you. I have consumed media that portrays people who look like you as villains, thugs, and criminals. I’m sorry for consuming that media and not critiquing it, for not asking tough questions about those tropes, and for choosing to believe that these caricatures represent you. I’m sorry for consuming that media and in so doing, consuming you.

I’m sorry for not seeing you.

I’m sorry for seeing “you”. For the times I’ve clutched my wallet, crossed the street, called a friend on my phone. Because you and I can’t possibly share the same space without one of us being afraid, and I chose fear. I’m sorry for choosing fear.

I have sinned against you in word. I have not used my privileged platform, I have not raised my voice. When Rachel was weeping for her children and could not be consoled but I didn’t cry, I just retweeted. I locked the door and locked my heart and hoped to God that you couldn’t break in to either. Because what if you did? What if you busted down the door and what if I had to face you and what if you demanded significance?

I’m sorry for listening to conversations when I should have intervened. I’m sorry for not objecting to all the words and all the lies that fly thick when you are discussed. Why are you a “topic”? I’m sorry for sitting by when you were reduced to a topic. I’m sorry for allowing you to be abstracted out of flesh and blood and made a political platform. Abstracted is a nice word. Dissected is more real. Dismembered.

I have sinned against you in deed. I have rebuked your anger because of my discomfort. I have been been startled by your rage—the rage of five generations and millions of perished souls. I have loved my comfort more than your indignation. I’m sorry for thinking that you owe me a sugar-coated version of your story. I’m sorry for thinking that you should welcome me into your story period. It’s a grace to hear your voice, and I am least deserving.

I’m sorry for demanding everything from you and expecting so little of myself.

I have sinned in what I have done. I’m sorry for thinking that your community needs fixing and that I know the fix and that I am the fixer. I’m sorry for strutting through your home, unwilling to listen, learn, or take orders. I’m sorry that I didn’t work under your direction, but was ever ready to direct. I thought you needed me—I never thought I needed you. I thought you would receive from me—I never thought you would give to me. There is a savior, and that savior isn’t me… but that savior will save you from me, and I pray that savior comes, quickly.

I have sinned in what I have left undone. I have watched you memorialize your slain. On TV. But I did not join you there, not at that miserable park with the nightly drive-bys. That wouldn’t be wise. I have watched you march your justice. On my newsfeed. But I did not want to march because those demonstrators, you know, they get arrested. I showed my solidarity by remaining solitary and keeping your pain at arms’ length because it really might swallow me. What if your pain swallowed me? I am sorry for making your pain about me. I’m sorry—not for leaving your side—but for never showing up in the first place.

 #BlackLivesMatter—Brussels

#BlackLivesMatter—Brussels

I apologize for denying you. Again. And again. And again.

I have not loved you with my whole heart. Or even part of my heart. I have not loved you, neighbor, as myself. I’m truly sorry, I do repent, and I won’t stop repenting.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy.

Advertisements