One of my friends posted the following on his facebook page recently “I am a hard-working, straight, white, middle-aged, loving, evangelical, bible honoring, constitutional conservative, christian; does your version of inclusiveness have room enough for me? If not, please reconsider what inclusiveness means to you.”
This got me thinking and I can understand where this question is coming from. For some, it may seem like a pendulum is swinging and no one knows how far it will go. And there may even be a small percentage of people who are not male, straight, white or conservative who would like to oppress people who fit that description. But I think that most people just want to be understood, treated fairly, valued, and not marginalized. The dominant white, straight, male, conservative culture is (in my opinion) not being represented very well right now in our country. I question whether or not I want to even include evangelical and bible honoring in this list, because I think that some who make that claim do not demonstrate anything that resembles that. To my friend who posted the question, please know that I consider you to be an honorable Christian man and you have demonstrated this repeatedly over the number of years that I have known you.
I do think that it’s time for ALL of us to participate in some self-examination. Here are a few questions for us to ponder:
How many people of a different culture or skin tone are you in authentic relationships with where you are comfortable enough with one another to discuss your personal experiences with race and cultural differences? Do you have any friends who you’ve asked to hold you accountable and point out when you unknowingly say or do something that might not be helpful to someone coming from a different perspective?
Did your parents, grandparents or other people of influence in your life ever refer to groups of people in any stereotypical or derogatory way or view them as inferior to your skin tone or culture?
Did you or anyone in your family ahead of you directly or indirectly benefit from the GI bill or a FHA loan? (If you don’t know why I pose this question, it might be helpful research to do.)
Have you had opportunities to make decisions about education by buying a home in a particular school district, or lobbying to get your child into a particular public school, or have the option of homeschooling or private school?
Did you or your family members ever get an internship or job opportunity because of family or friend connections?
Has anyone in your family ever gotten into any trouble with law enforcement and had connections or resources to get out of the situation, receiving a second chance?
Do you personally know anyone who is LGBTQI who has felt safe in sharing their story of self-discovery with you?
Do you consider people who appear to have fewer financial resources to be “less fortunate”?
Have you ever participated in any type of racial equity or implicit bias training?
Are you familiar with the “achievement gap” and considered the complexity of what causes it?
I could go on and on, and at this point I’ve probably strengthened my relationship with some of my friends and caused some others to categorize me in some derogatory way. I’m willing to take that risk.
So, as I know this message will stir some conversation, all that I ask is that if you want to chime in, please only do so in an attempt to be curious about the perspectives of others, and I’ll try to do the same as we dialogue.
So back to my friend and his facebook question….yes, there is room for you. I sure hope so, because you represent a significant number of the men that I love and value most in this world. We need you and your gifts and your work ethic, and your commitment to your family and your generous spirit. There is room enough for all. My hope and prayer is that we will all place ourselves in a posture of learning to understand, love and embrace all aspects of all human beings. In Henry Nouwen’s book Called to Community: The Life Jesus Wants for His People, we read that “Community, as a new way of being together, leads to the discovery or rediscovery of each other’s hidden talents and makes us realize our own unique contribution to the common life.”
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Claire – What’s your version of inclusiveness
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