It has taken a substantial amount of time to decide what this Lenten season was going to look like for me. Every time I considered abstaining from something it felt like the choice would be more performative than spiritual in nature. I have finally settled on something and it may seem like an odd choice but I think it will be good for me and I hope that it will spiritually and emotionally revitalize me so that I can continue to do the work that I feel called to do.
For Lent, I’m giving up on teaching White people.
Posts on social media will be focused on encouraging AND lamenting with my fellow People of Color. I will not be responding to White people’s requests for clarification or education on any of these posts. I will not accept any more invitations to teach or participate in events that center the educating of White people (I have four previous commitments that I will still honor). Messages looking for answers in my inbox will be directed to Google. If any of these requests happen in real life they will be met with a polite declining to participate in the conversation.
This is not about being petty, teaching white people a lesson, or because I’ve lost hope that White Supremacy can be undone. It’s because I believe it can and I want to be in the movement for the long haul. I think this is something that will be healthy and invigorating for me. I’ve had growing frustration and resentment and part of that is because of being constantly inundated with requests that shouldn’t be my responsibility (at least not 24/7). And a lot of those requests are because I have taken that responsibility upon myself and feel a tremendous amount of guilt whenever I attempt to instill boundaries or practice self-care. There is also unwarranted pride involved in that guilt because this movement does not succeed or fail based upon my actions and it’s okay for me to step back and expect others to carry the burden.
I need to get over myself and others need to get over expecting me to be readily available. I am already anticipating how hard this will be for me and how I will encounter shame and have to unpack where it’s coming from and how to manage it. I need to learn that just because I’m in the “room” doesn’t mean I HAVE to answer.
To my fellow PoC, if you see me breaking these commitments please (lovingly) correct me (White people… just don’t). Sometimes, I don’t even realize I’m doing it so, if I write/say something that seems like it centers the educating of a White audience, let me know that I’m falling into old habits.
To focus my prayer and contemplative practice during this time I’m going to participate in Lenten Lamentations. Each day during Lent, the site will share a devotional that highlights a historic incident that occurred in our country’s history on that date, a corresponding image, a Scripture for reflection, and a responsive prayer for lament and repentance.
I’m incredibly grateful to two People of Color for taking the time to create this devotional.
Thank you, Dominique D Gilliard and Erina Kim-Eubanks.
If Lent is a part of your spiritual practice, how are you engaging in this season?