Confession of a Colorless Person (Juneteenth, 2019)

I have expected melanated people
to paint their colors on my canvas —
as if I had a right to all of them,
defining myself as “white”
the ultimate gathering of all
tints and shades and hues.

Don’t forgive me,
Bless me to be a watcher

of the bright and tender,
sacred and celebrating
of this day.

Juneteenth — when those with color
shine,
and the colorless
are mirror, are window,
then try to open,
then try to stop trying.

Juneteenth or Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, remembers the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South and more generally still emancipation of African Americans through the United States and more generally still the celebration of all victories against old and new Jim Crow, against crimes and cruelties, against unjust policing, against the small and large assumptions that Black Lives do not matter. I am white. I live in one of the five states that do not officially recognize Juneteenth.

In Queer matters I am an ally. In racial matters, I cannot begin to be. I carry on my back a history of violence. My Daddy used to say to me, “It doesn’t matter what you personally do or don’t do, as a white girl, the path has been cleared before you by the blood of others.” Even twisting around about that and trying to wake up to the depths of my prejudice is so often trying to make it about me.

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2 Responses to Confession of a Colorless Person (Juneteenth, 2019)

  1. Stephen Price says:

    Maren, thank you so much for this. it’s very helpful as I’m trying to wrap my head around what my responses need to be to Juneteenth and to the whole set of issues around race as I seek to pastor a multicultural congregation.
    Even as I write this, I have to it meant that I’m making it about me. So thank you for this beautiful prophetic word.

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