I read an article this morning that Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump came close to being arrested in New York City for real estate fraud. They colluded together with other members of the Trump organization to inflate the numbers of renters in one of their buildings. It was an organized effort with evidence of information being swapped around by these two and others to create a support network of their fraud. Ultimately, the DA decided that it didn't rise to the level of criminal charges. Or rather, after a visit from a lawyer who has since donated $50,000 to his campaign, the DA dropped the charges.
Of course, now, the DA says he will return the $50,000.
This, my friends, is not only criminal activity, it is privilege at work. It is class privilege (clearly) and white privilege. It takes a lot to upset these two particular apple carts. A little tiny bit of fraud is not going to do it. White privilege is the advantage you are given because you can stand on the history of systemic racism rather than being trampled by that history. You never had to come from slavery or go to a segregated school.
Teaching Tolerance defines it this way:
White skin privilege is not something that white people necessarily do, create or enjoy on purpose. Unlike the more overt individual and institutional manifestations of racism described above, white skin privilege is a transparent preference for whiteness that saturates our society. White skin privilege serves several functions. First, it provides white people with “perks” that we do not earn and that people of color do not enjoy. Second, it creates real advantages for us. White people are immune to a lot of challenges. Finally, white privilege shapes the world in which we live — the way that we navigate and interact with one another and with the world.
I confess. I love video games. I will also confess that every video game I play has real depictions of people. They are all. ALL. white people. I wrote a letter to one of the game manufacturers and asked them to think about providing a more diverse population of characters. There is now a supporting character who is a person of color.
But that is what white privilege is. I see everything in society as a reflection of who I am. Characters in games, typical band-aids are my color of flesh, nude colored pantyhose is my skin-tone. These are the small potatoes privileges.
Big potatoes are that when I'm in a store, I probably don't get followed because people think I'm going to shoplift, people do not assume that my success was because of affirmative action, I do not get pulled over because of my skin color, I do get treated more leniently because of my skin color (and gender), I can get a loan more easily, I do not have a history of being told that I can only in certain neighborhoods, and the list goes on.
Imagine being told you can only live in certain neighborhoods and having the economic driver of neighborhood employment removed. What happens to your neighborhood? Especially with the globalization of manufacturing. Trapped in a neighborhood, little economic development, systemically denied entry to jobs and education based on your name on an application--this is systemic racism and white privilege.
The answer, some say, is to have all the folks take on white identities. Change the name Beyoncé to Beatrice and she will get a call back for that office job. Is that really how we want things to work?
In 1973, Donald Trump was sued by the justice department because he would not rent to blacks. Today, his children are committing fraud in their real estate practices. Any other family would have been incarcerated by now. Class privilege. White privilege. Systemic racism. And we now have a president who revels in such things.
And so it comes down to this small thing. What will you claim today? Will you claim to be fighting against systemic racism? Or not? Silence is complicity.
What will you claim today?
The complete practice today includes:
- centering with BIBO,
- breath prayer,
- video from Beyoncé
- a reflective quote from Deitrich Bonhoeffer
- links to scripture in the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions
- prayers for the world, and
- a photo by Quinn Dombrowski from flickr
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--shhh (repeat as many times as possible)
Breath prayer (repeat as many times as possible):
(inhale) Healing justice,
(exhale) Catch fire.
Buddhist Daily Reading: Daily Zen
Jewish Daily Reading: Daily Study from Chabad
Christian Daily Reading: Revised Common Lectionary Daily Reading
Muslim Daily Reading: Daily Verse from The Only Quran
Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, please share!
― Deitrich Bonhoeffer
Weekly prayer focus comes from the World Council of Churches prayer cycle. We know the world needs to be surrounded with prayer and positive thought. This allows us to work through the world country by country. We focus on one set of countries per week with the same prayer, lifting them up. I encourage you to fill this in however you see it.
Let us pray.
We know that we fail to live up to being makers of peace. Let us bring in rather than push out, be invitational rather than confrontational--seeing signs of life while mourning for the desecration of hope.
This week we pray for the countries of Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela.
For signs of hope and peace, we pray for
the mercy workers caring for the many affected by violence
those faithful who take a knee every day
the rains that come to refresh the land
the water protectors standing strong for the earth
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for
those seeking food and shelter, especially the Rohingya
those affected by hurricanes, especially Puerto Rico
those who have been harmed by violence, especially those in Las Vegas
those who suffer in systems of domination, especially the earth
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to, we pray.
For the transformation from ME to WE, we pray.
Let peace prevail on earth.
So mote it be.
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi
O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.