What does it mean to be White in the United States? A personal account.

How often do you think about the color of your skin? How often do you notice the ways it affects how people treat you? I am White, and I try to think about this every day.

I surely do not have to think about my Whiteness. I didn’t realize it until about a year and a half ago, but now I choose to recognize it. I choose to examine the privilege I receive because of that as well. I also consider basic interactions with people of other colors and other white people.

Because I’m White, achieving status in the United States is much easier for me than my darker-skinned counter parts. (The hurtles and ceilings I encounter would have to do with my gender rather than my race, but I won’t get into that here.)

Because I’m White, I could ignore the traumatic news around me about black and brown people dying, black churches being burned, black and brown people being kicked out of their neighborhoods because they’re being gentrified. I wouldn’t be personally affected.

Because I’m White, other white people assume I can read and speak English well without making me take special tests before I enter a specific setting. (This happened to one of my half-White, half-Latina friends even though she speaks and reads English perfectly, and I’m sure she’s not the only one.)

Because I’m White, I’m not the butt of insensitive jokes about blending in with the night, and people don’t ask if I’m wearing a wig or a weave.

Despite this, I choose to recognize my own Whiteness yet engage with people of color and the issues pertaining to them.

Though I am White, I intentionally befriend people of color and other nationalities at my workplaces. I want to learn about the world and operate outside of the sphere that’s filled with a lot of people who look like me.

Though I am White, I engage with the traumatic news around me about black and brown people dying, black churches being burned, black and brown people being kicked out of their neighborhoods because they’re being gentrified. While my person is not affected, the body of Christ is, and thus I am. My friends are affected, thus I am. My neighbors are affected, thus I am.

Though I am White, I recognize the value of knowing multiple languages and consider the complexity that language and culture provoke. I also know that even in the United States, not all white people speak English and not all non-white people speak their language of descent. We must get to know people before we judge them.

Since I am White and was socialized in the suburbs where most other people were White as well, I need to be especially careful to think before I speak. I need to recognize the differences between culture and avoid insensitive comments or questions but not be afraid to ask good ones. This is easiest and most effective in the safety of good friends of color who know my heart.

I do not write this to emphasize my (limited) awareness of race relations but because I believe my old church’s motto that “people are significant and Jesus is more valuable than anything else.” No matter how racially homogenous our homes may seem, we all impact each other (at a structural level if nothing else, but I really doubt it’s nothing else).

As an aspect of my humanity, being White is complex. Hey, I’m beautifully and intricately made by God! And hey, sin messed up stuff too, like the ways we relate to each other based on outward appearances. Thus, today I challenge you to begin recognizing your Whiteness in all it means.

I’m calling us to a greater awareness of how God made our bodies, where he placed us in this world and how that impacts others. (For me sociologically, I’m a White, lower-middle class, American female. That’s a lot to process!)

When we understand who we are and our standing in this world in comparison to others, we can love others well, considering them better than ourselves, treating them as we’d like to be treated. Whatever our race, we all have privilege and some form of power. How will we use that to serve our neighbors, as Jesus commanded? If you’re White, how does that affect your daily life?

Advertisements

Introduction

The idea of autobiographies has always seemed egotistical to me, but I must write one for the sake of this blog. Let’s call it a testimony to all readers instead of a biography, for my life is not mine, and this blog is not about me. It is about my Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God who came down to earth’s level to redeem His people. I am a prospective journalist and missionary, and my goal is that both of these future goals will converge in this blog.

My name, Katelyn Skye, contains my life’s purpose. It reflects my identity in Jesus Christ. Katelyn means purity, and Skye comes from Psalm 19, which says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” To glorify God in everything I think, say, and do and before everyone I meet is the purpose of my life as a Christian, and God is so worthy of praise. Fellow believers, our God is awesome.

What else is important to me besides Jesus, people, and writing? That’s a difficult question because most of my life ties back to God; He’s created my quirks and has given me my passions. I worship God through playing and writing music, I have a cactus named Fred, I enjoy coloring to relax in any spare time, dark chocolate is my favorite, and I go to Wheaton College in Illinois, where I’m studying sociology and journalism. Wheaton is an awesome place full of Christ-like and (get ready for this, Wheaties) intentional community. Besides being a place to grow spiritually, it has challenged me both academically and socially, profoundly impacting my life. I am so blessed to be here, but that’s enough about Wheaton College for now. Let’s talk about Jesus again.

The good news that Jesus came to bring disobedient, selfish, rebellious humans to Himself through His agonizing sacrifice on the cross–this news is not for me alone. His defeat of death when He rose from the dead is not for white Americans alone. Jesus said to His Jewish disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). In His time on earth, He brought Greeks and Jews together to become His church; this amazing feat demonstrates the racial and ethnic unity that God desires throughout the world. No person deserves His mercy and grace, but He extends it to everyone who would believe in Jesus Christ. He values humanity; that’s why He came to earth. Whether praise and worship takes the form of gospel music, Indian dancing, kneeling in a prayer chapel, repeated Korean choruses, frying flautas to serve others, rapping, finger picking on guitar, or painting, God is delighted and given glory. The time has come when men and women from all nations, states, races, ethnicities, and socializations worship Him in the Spirit and in truth (John 4). “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing” (1 Timothy 2:8).

To conclude, I’ll share something that the apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to Timothy: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1:13-15).