This year, 1,100 miles separate me from the people with whom I have spent every Thanksgiving. Rather than holding to tradition, my plans involve waiting: waiting for the phone to be passed around to each loved one, waiting for the day to pass, waiting for Christmas so I can join them.
While that spider and my mild arachnophobia did give me chronic discomfort, my discomfort also made me hyper-aware of my surroundings. And, strangely, that’s where my gratitude for spiders comes in.
Is the crisis of policing more acute today than before Ferguson two years ago? Yes, but that’s not completely a bad thing, particularly if a large part of this awareness is driven by finally coming to terms with and addressing the experience of minority communities.
Many people in the U.S. seem to think there is some magical date when the nation achieved victory over racism. Maybe they trace this social V-day back to 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. Maybe the date is 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Acts. No matter the date, we have not crossed any historical line into a society where race is no longer a salient category.
Between the World and Me is in some ways dire. But in a world rife with sin and misery, why is that surprising? We should be asking questions about how we can imagine better, how we can empathize better. What can we do as Christians to support each other across racial lines? What can we do to identify deeply with human beings—like Michael Brown—who have been made in the image of God?
When I attended seminary, a classmate once told me that I was not like the rest of "them"; instead, I was rational and logical. He was white, I am Mexican-American, and in the context of our discussion, "them" meant the other seminary students of color. I was dumbfounded and speechless.