This past week, we have once again been reminded of the insidious epidemic of antisemitism and racism, not only in our country but literally right here in Colorado Springs. I suppose I could offer a biblical or theological response calling to mind what Jesus would say to this– about all being beloved creations of our God. But you all know this already. So, I am choosing another route to respond to the racist and antisemitic graffiti near Vista Ridge High School.
These racist acts are not a resurgence of an issue long resolved. Racism and antisemitism were never eradicated from this planet, from this country, or from this city. However, many are indeed now emboldened to express what they had previously only thought. But make no mistake, this hatred and vitriol has been looming for centuries.
As white people, we’ve created this mess and we need to clean it up. There is a false sense among many of our circles of ‘having arrived’ as white allies. Too often, we perpetuate the problem. We tend to mistake our awareness and ally-ship as enough, blaming the overt racist ideology and expression, the likes of which we saw this week in Colorado Springs, on ‘those racists.’ We can rant, and protest, and call ‘those’ people out, but what are we doing to confront our own complicity in this mess?
The graffiti near Vista Ridge High School was heinous, just like the graffiti in the Old North End a few years ago was. If you are genuinely despaired, enraged, or disillusioned about these antisemitic and racist acts, then become more engaged. Show up at council meetings to push our elected officials to hold all our constituency publicly accountable. Call your legislators. Protest. Do all those acts that make a public statement.
But then, check yourselves. Take an intensive study on racism and antisemitism. Hold yourselves accountable for participating in the white supremacist system. Acknowledge that we too are complicit as long as we participate in systems that benefit us at the expense of people of color and at the expense of communities that have been hatefully targeted for centuries. Admit that we have our own implicit racism at work. Initiate, in every possible venue of your life, the conversations that hold everyone accountable for their participation. Until we are willing to come to terms with our privilege, we are just as complicit as those who would use paint to so violently diminish our beloved siblings.
Rev Clare Twomey, MDiv, MS
Pastor, Vista Grande Community Church, UCC
Together Colorado is a non-partisan, multi-racial, multi-faith community organization comprised of 220 congregations, schools, clergy and faith leaders across the state and a member of Faith in Action with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 45 local and state federations.