An Open Apology to Those Not Like Me

To my brothers and sisters who are immigrants, refugees, people of color, women, LGBTQ, Muslim, or any other marginalized group:

I’m a white man of privilege. I’d love to view myself (and by viewed by others) as someone who isn’t racist, misogynist, homophobic or in any way demeaning to any human, either in action or thought. But I’ve had an inescapable sense of obligation in these last few days: an obligation to ask for your forgiveness.

It started when my oldest child, who identifies as gender neutral, texted late on election night to say that they didn’t feel safe.

Then I almost cried when Van Jones, during CNN’s election night coverage, shared honestly about his pain and wondering how he would process the current reality with his children.

Then a dear (white) friend with adopted African children shared through tears how she was choosing to keep her children home from school the next day out of concern for their safety.

Then a youth ministry friend shared that he was on his way to the hospital to visit a youth group kid who checked himself in with suicidal ideation the previous night, due to his fear surrounding the election results and what they might mean for him as a gay teen.

Then I saw, as I’m sure you have also, all the horrible instances of bullying perpetrated on those viewed as “other.”

Finally, my amazing wife came home from work and shared her weariness. As I was in the midst of meeting her in that space, she very lovingly and graciously said something like, “I know you care about this, and I know that you are intentional about supporting women; but there’s a part of this you just can’t understand.”

I’ve been wrestling with my own culpability. I’m tempted, of course, to hide behind proclamations of my beliefs and build a tiny wall of defense based on some of my previous actions. Those urges are strong. But I know they are helpful to no one other than myself.

So I want to say to you, I love you, and I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for the times—protracted or in-this-moment—when you experience limitations imposed on you by others (by people like me).

I’m sorry for the way we patronize you.

I’m sorry for the slurs, and the diminishing looks.

I’m sorry for excluding you from the White Men’s Power Club.

I’m sorry for giving you ample reason for fear.

I’m sorry to have put you in place where you have completely legitimate anxiety over the treatment your children receive in the world.

I’m sorry for my role in perpetuating a culture that has not yet progressed beyond this injustice, this permitted prejudice and inequality.

I want you to experience the freedom and opportunity that I’m given; and I’m sorry for whatever role I’ve played in keeping that from you.

I will be searching my thoughts and behaviors for the ways I may actively or inadvertently contribute to this systemic exclusion. And in the mean time, I ask your forgiveness for the myriad ways I have perpetuated these realities knowingly or unknowingly.

13 thoughts on “An Open Apology to Those Not Like Me”

  1. Why am i evil for being a white male? I’ve been told so many times (getting my MSW and all) and essentially bare no imago dei, that belongs to “the other”

  2. matthew — i firmly believe that you and i share the imago dei in the exact same proportions as everyone else, regardless of race, gender, creed or any other variable. but i also believe that those of us with inherent power share a culpability in our current reality. ultimately, though — the point of my post was not to call you evil, but to own up to my own contribution.

  3. Man up buddy. You don’t have to apologize for being born as God created you, a white male. You aren’t out there demonstrating, destroying property, beating on people, hating others who have different views than you and advocating murder.(#killtrump). Just be who God created you to be…a neighbor who loves others as himself. No need to apologize, we are all sinners who fall short every day. That’s why we need Jesus. Only He can change hearts.

  4. I think you might be confusing “apologizing for who you are” with “apologizing for the culture we’ve implicitly played a role in creating” (that excludes others based on “who they are”). I fully agree that no one need apologize for who they are.

  5. Beautiful post, Mark. Thank you. During a time when the church is more suspect to our society than it already was, we need more Christian leaders making these kinds of apologies.

  6. The healing will begin when people start accepting the result and not demonizing the other side. It’s a little far fetched to think harm will come to you by our elected officials because you’re a minority or because of your gender – I am a woman and a minority and I’m not paraliza by fear, I am not afraid. It’s time to replace opinion with prayer.

  7. The problem I have is that this gentlemen isn’t just apologizing for himself. He is apologizing for “people like me” (white, male, heterosexual) for all the injustices he listed, real or perceived. What about an apology for me? An apology for having to have my children sit in science class and be taught that all living things came about through purely natural processes? An apology for having to raise my children in a culture that celebrates sexual promiscuity and the objectification of women? An apology to the 70 year old baker who was forced out of business because she didn’t want to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding, or the Christian photographer who was sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars for the same reason? An apology to me (and people like me) who have to live daily with being labeled a bigot or a racist for espousing our deeply held beliefs and convictions? The problem I have with this blog is that it it is viewing the injustices from one direction, as though the injustices are perpetuated by one group (white, male, heterosexual), and inflicted only on minorities. For their to be real reconciliation, there must be an acknowledgment that there are injustices committed and received on both sides. I’ve worked hard to see and correct my own biases and prejudices through friendships and relationships with people who hold opposing views. The problem, as I see it, is that that kind of self examination isn’t being reciprocated by the other side. And this blog, although I’m sure is well meaning, contributes to that.

  8. Isaiah 6
    5Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
    6Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
    8Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
    I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

    God, we have beheld your Glory and realize we are a people that are doomed, with unclean lips, and live among people with unclean lips… Forgive us for our neglect and hep us to cling to the only one that can make sense of the mess in your powerful forgiveness.

  9. I agree with Larry. We have completely allowed the secular world tell us what to believe. Shame on us. Division will never go away. Ever. We allowed it. Christians better start standing up for what the Bible says instead of having to defend ourselves all the time. I’m none of the things I’m called. I’m called those things because of my skin color and my political choice but not by the content of my character. Those spouting their hate at me are SJW who didn’t get what they want and now everyone on one side is this and that and the other thing. STOP IT! Please, please leave the judgement to God and let us live our lives and start seeing all people, what ever color, race, gender, etc as HUMANS created in God’s image. God will judge the behavior of all of us. Not you, not me, not the president. The left, in my opinion, is fueling the fear. FEAR FEAR FEAR is all over facebook/twitter. Some of the people I know personally and I know they have no reason to believe the hype. My children are minorities and not one is afraid. I don’t believe 99% of the stories from the media about what is going on and you shouldn’t either. THEY do not have ANYONES best interest at heart.

  10. I have to ask, did we comfort those that were scared with the Gospel, or did we just give them vague platitudes?

    I know it’s a tough pill, but the gay student, Muslim woman or “gender neutral” child doesn’t need to be coddled (especially considering the lies that were espoused to cause such fear). They need to hear the Gospel of Christ.

    That’s not hiding behind something, that is the flat out truth.

    Someone fearful for their life for being gay/Muslim/woman/non-white doesn’t need to be comforted through the ways of the world; they need comforted that they can have eternal life through Christ if they turn from their sinful ways.

    Honestly, if anything, we should be assuaging their fears by pointing out the sovereignty of God. That our only true hope is in the saving blood of Christ. That the greatest fear should be not of man, but of He that can destroy the soul in Hell.

    The fact that your “apology” (patronizing in its own right) is completely devoid of the Gospel is telling.

    I’m indignant that you would think that apologizing about your white privilege is more comforting than the message of Christ.

    We don’t need apologies from the “privileged white males,” we need them to “man up” and act like the men God wants them to be, pounding the pavement to spread the Gospel, not some apology. (I’m sure there’s a pun there about apologies and apologists, but whatever.)

    The teens I teach, regardless of race, gender or mental health were never fearful of what might come from a Godless misogynist in office, nor were they fearful of a Godless feminist. They know the eternal perspective of God’s sovereignty and ability to save. They know that God puts the leaders in place that advance His ultimate purpose. They know that neither Trump nor Clinton could ever save their lost friends (gay, straight or neutral), but only God in His infinite Grace. Maybe we need to stop focusing on PWM vs everyone else and focus on the Cross vs the world.

  11. Add one more thing to your list: Putting your nasty bare feet on the bulkhead wall thingy on the airplane.” :)

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