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I’m not ashamed to be a white male, but …

Saturday, 11 November 2017  | Mick Pope



I recently attended the Justice Conference in Melbourne. This was the third year it was run and I’ve been to all three. I can easily say it is one of the highlights of my year, being surrounded by so many like-minded people and having the opportunity to learn from so many diverse voices. This year’s theme was Love Thy Neighbour, and in January I gained approval to write a short book that tied in with this theme entitled A Climate of Justice: Loving you Neighbour in a Warming World.

One of the things I came away with this year is that justice is really hard to learn about for white males, not because we are more sinful than anyone else, but because while male privilege really is a thing. Colonialism is a thing. Patriarchy is a thing. Sexism is a thing. You might not go out of your way to support these things, but when did you last challenge them? It’s not about self-flagellation, guilt or shame, but about waking up and stepping up. It’s about justice; restorative justice that lifts people up, and right living that prevents us from falling into sin. So I penned (or I guess keyed) the following. A poor imitation of some of the things I’ve heard and seen, but here goes.

I’m not ashamed to be a white male, but …

I don’t have to worry too much about what I wear or where I walk at night. I know that maleness brings me might, but I’m not sure that it’s alright that women can’t say the same.

When I see women post #metoo, I wonder, just wonder, if ‘not all men’ will do the trick. Is that some white male sleight of hand to make it all just go away? Just don’t say to me ‘me too’, cause that might just mean that I am the ‘me too’ to your ‘me too’.

I’m not ashamed to be a white male, but …

The world is rich in colour yet I’m often blind to its bright lights and shadows. I’ve never been chased down in the streets, never been a target on some cop’s beat. I’ve never had to cross the gap to get where I want to be.

Even my church land is stolen; even where I lay my head to sleep of a better world, that place too isn’t mine to repose in. Not while prisons are full, and cemeteries too. My white world has a black history beyond memory into dreaming.

I’m not ashamed to be a white male, but …

The world is full of guys in suits making decisions, driving divisions between the rich and poor, slave and free, the seeker and the citizen. Of divisions there will be no end, while suits rule.

White men dig holes to bury the climate, build fences to shut out the desperate, build drones to murder the defenceless. Suits without hearts or souls. Did dad tell you it’s wrong to cry? Is that why you don’t hear others when they do?

I’m not ashamed to be a white male, but …

I won’t play Jesus to the lost in my head, won’t be the ginger saviour, instead I need to be saved, not from skin, not from gender, but from the throne of privilege. I need to climb down from that throne, be human with you.

If you let me I’ll walk with you, we’ll go hand in hand to some better future, some better place. My position is a social construction, it just brings destruction unless my instruction is that justice be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.

Mick Pope is an aspiring ecotheologian and the Reviews Editor of Zadok Perspectives. He heads up the Ethos Environment think tank and is an adjunct lecturer at Eastern College in creation care and theology of science. He is also Professor of Environmental Mission at Missional University. Mick is the author of Climate of Hope: Church and Mission in a Warming World (2014, with Claire Dawson) and A Climate of Justice: Loving Your Neighbour in a Warming World (2017).


Comments

Andrew Kulikovsky
November 17, 2017, 4:10PM
I have a problem with the tone of this article and the negative aspersions ascribed to particular groups of people.

'...never been a target on some cop’s beat...'
'...guys in suits making decisions, driving divisions between the rich and poor...'
'...build drones to murder the defenceless...'

So cops set out to target particular ethnic groups? Even though many of the cops in the US who have shot and killed others in the line of duty were not white but African-Americans or Latinos...

Guys in suits set out to cause division and conflict? Does that apply to the UN? Or the EU? So if we got rid of all the guys in suits, everything would be OK? That's surely wishful thinking...

Those who build and use drones deliberately target and murder defenceless people? That is an outrageous and slanderous assertion. The introduction of the drone into modern warfare, policing and security operations has led to a reduction in casualties - in reducing the need to risk many troops on the ground in an operation, and to allow for precision targeting so that only the bad guys get taken out and there is as little collateral damage as possible.

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