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  • Writer's pictureClaire M. Burnett

Dear White People…

Updated: Oct 3, 2018

and Black People too.

I was sitting in Cindi’s eating my pancakes like every other Thursday when an old white man walked up to me and said “Miss, I’m so sorry we didn’t see you! If we would’ve known you were eating alone we would’ve invited you to have dinner with us.”

I cried. Right there in the restaurant. I let him walk away before I completely burst into tears.

Based off of his age, I assumed that he had every reason to “hate” me. Every reason to pretend like I didn’t exist. And I mean…we’re in Texas, right! (Everyone swears people here walk around with redneck written across their forehead, cowboy boots and hats and calls men “BOY.”) Yet here he was, going out of his way to apologize for not inviting a stranger to his table.

What happened in Charlottesville haunts me.

And friends, I’m not talking about the explicit racism and the outright hatred. While I will never understand that sort of repulsion toward another human being, at least I can see it exactly for what it is. What is hurting my heart even more is our silent biases. These close quarter prejudices have been the silent assassins to my heart for the last few weeks.

I had the honor of watching so many of my white brothers and sisters immediately speak up, out and against explicit racism. One even lost her life. And friends, thank you. But now, I want to talk about something else. I want to talk about how you may still be part of the problem.

You’re Not a Racist…

I know. Trust me, I know. But you may be biased.

While it sickens me that the alt-right is so bold in expressing their hatred publicly, it doesn’t hurt me as much as you dismissing potential biases and pretending it’s not part of the problem. This goes for my white and black brothers and sisters.

Our stereotypes and silent prejudices have us facing the highest of relational walls.

How are we ever going to understand each other if our conversations are like drive by’s? How deep will we really get if our genuine interactions with people of different backgrounds happen about once a quarter or in forced group settings?

No, most of us are not explicitly racist. We can shop, dine and fellowship with people of all colors, nationalities, and backgrounds. We can even go on missions trips and interact with people who don’t look like us just fine. You may even post pictures with your associates unconsciously insinuating that you “don’t see color.” However, what our inner circles and the people we choose to do life with look like may communicate something different.

We hear about injustice and oppression and we quickly want to speak against it. Great!…but are we looking at the inward fix as well?

Answer These Questions:

  1. Think about your three closest friends. Are any of them a different race from you? Add two more. Any of them?

  2. Think about your dating history. Have you ever even entertained the thought of dating outside of your race?

  3. What do you assume about certain people before you’re introduced?

  4. What’s your story? What were you not told? Were photos of people different than you missing in articles you read throughout high school and college?

  5. What about the TV Shows and the movies you watched?

“Sometimes what’s missing from the narrative imprints our heart just as much as the noise.”

I had a faithful sister in my community group confess to me that I was the first black friend she’d ever been close to. I cannot even begin to tell you how much respect I had for her recognition of what had been missing from her perspective. It brought tears to my eyes as she shared with me how grateful she was that she could ask questions. That she could see we were more the same, than different. And guess what, I was so grateful I could get some aloe from my sister for this wicked sun burn!

What’s missing from your narrative?

There’s a Dangerous Security Blanket…

“My white brothers and sisters love me, but not as much as the people that look like them.” “I am beautiful, but not the right kind.” “I get it. You naturally gravitate toward what you’re used to… with people that look like you, you don’t have to worry about ‘breathing wrong.’ They just get you.”

LIE after LIE after LIE. Satan has taken a brick to my head several times in these last few weeks. But in my figurative bloody mess, I have knocked back even harder by confessing to my brothers and sisters how my heart was breaking.

Jesus did not die for comfortable.

And the problem lies not in comfort, but in what our hearts make of it.

Jesus, however, shows us how to confront this danger. He spent 40 days in a DESERT with no food, water or physical company. I don’t know about you but I don’t even want to spend one hour in a Texas summer under any of those conditions.

Twisting the good things of God into opportunities for disobedience (shocker), Satan entices our exhausted Messiah with the idol of comfort:

“If you are the son of God, ease your hunger by commanding these stones to become bread” (Luke 4:3).
“If you want a kingdom, let me give it to you. All you have to do is worship me and my world is yours” (Luke 4:5–7).
“If you are the Son of God, prove it. Now. On your own terms. The coming kingdom will arrive much easier than what your Father has planned. Why go through the hardships that stand before you? Just throw yourself from the top of the temple and let the world watch your Father protect you” (Luke 4:9–11).

((I don’t know if you can personally say you hate anyone…but Satan is a great option.))

Now. new page, same playbook.

Jesus didn’t give into the lie of comfort. Instead, he clung to his Father’s promise to bring a better kingdom. Jesus was there to do his Father’s will (Luke 4:4, 8, 12), not Satan’s (Luke 4:1–13), and not even his own (Matthew 26:36–46).

He came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), and nothing — not even the comfort of earthly provision — could keep the Son from his mission.

What Mission Are You On?

Friends, what hurts my heart today is how many people are choosing comfort over the “ransom of many” and I am begging you not to be one.

You’re probably asking yourself what it would look like to diversify your surroundings organically. And it would look like… diversifying your surroundings organically. Put yourself in places you wouldn’t have otherwise. And not temporarily for the sake of checking boxes and making yourself feel better. But regularly choose to walk with brothers and sisters that don’t look like you.

Just a couple of years ago, I could not answer those questions the way I did today, despite every shade of everything being part of my family by blood! There were simply things I had to consider that my white brothers and sisters knew nothing about, and being around people who did not require explanations was easier.

I had to ask myself the same hard questions I asked you, and I can proudly say it has been the biggest blessing of my life to intentionally remove that thinking. It has grown me more than I could ever describe, and it has brought me closer to the kind of love that the Lord desires for all of His children. My inner circle is a melting pot of so many different shades that continue to choose me faithfully despite our differences. If your inner circles look like this, then you know as well what a privilige it truly is.

I have to believe it’s a picture of how God chooses you even when the world might say you don’t deserve it.

What happened in Charlottesville was deeply demonic. No law, no government, and no legislation can change the root of the issue here, but Jesus Can.

Friend, if we are going to help be His hands and feet in changing hearts, then we have to start with ours.

If we truly believe we are all equal in the sight of God, then let’s make sure our every day lives look like we do too.

Love always,


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