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.