the eclipse of one family’s roots of racism

Like most of the southeast, I’m in Charleston for the solar eclipse.


I’m here with my extended family, and the irony is not lost on me. The eclipse is special because we can see the shadow of the moon cast over the earth. We fight for NASA approved special glasses so we can watch the moon take center stage and recognize its presence.

pete and opal
Granddaddy Pete and Grandmama Opal
I’ll be standing there with my parents and their 9 grandchildren—3 of color. That sentence in and of itself is a miracle. See my dad’s dad, Pete, was a good but complicated man. He worked law enforcement during the civil rights movement of the 60s and had grown up with the common blindness that few were trying to correct. He was a product of his southern upbringing with the beauty and pain that went along with it. He was fiercely loyal to a fault and worked sacrificially to provide for his family. He was far from perfect, but I loved him.

I hope that if he were here he would love these kids like my dad does. The Lord has eclipsed racism in our family by bringing these precious kids home. In just a few generations our tree went from deep hate to deep love. 

Today, the moon will pass in front of the sun. The magic is watching the process happen, how the darkness passes before our eyes and takes center stage.  The moon is always there but is overpowered by the sun. That’s like our white privilege, y’all. I haven’t always paid attention to it, a luxury, a privilege of my own skin color, but it’s been there.

When we have situations like Charlottesville, the nation gets brief but clear moments of acknowledging white privilege. But then it passes, and we go on like it’s not there. We marvel at it, shake our heads in disbelief, wonder at the complexity of it. Then it passes, we take off our glasses and go about everyday lives.

southern gospel

Speaking with hurt and frustration, lamenting with my brother he notes our southern white evangelical “gospel” is all too often anti-Black Lives Matter, anti-homosexual, anti-abortion and concerned with personal holiness. We’re proud of our voice to rightly step out into these spheres, but what about this in addition? What about social justice regarding white privilege and systematic injustices of people of color? We live blinded by the sun day in and day out and don’t recognize the privilege always present. We don’t speak out for our black brothers and sisters. We get to take off our eclipse glasses and go on about our lives. We neither pay enough attention to it nor give voice to it when our voices are often the loudest in the room.

country church

One day these three precious children of color won’t be able to take off their eclipse glasses and live their lives as usual. They will age out of their white-privilege umbrella’d childhood and have to learn to stand in the sun.  How will that play out? I have no idea. As the Lord has been working in our family, I want to keep seeing more of in the church.

I’m certain I remain blind to so much and have need to recognize and repent of a gracious plenty, but I want the Church strong  to lead. One that preaches the full counsel of God’s word and upholds truth. One that gives voice to the marginalized and underserved, underheard, overlooked and over-incarcerated. One that speaks out for biblical justice and fights for what is good and right.

I love the church; it is the bride of Christ. Let’s stand in his strength.

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