This week I will be thinking about Racism through the lens of William Stringfellow and his words, ending each day with a prayer.
On one of those steaming, stinking, stifling nights that each summer brings to Harlem tenements, I had a dream: In the dream, I was walking to Harlem on 128th Street, in the broad daylight. I seemed to be the only white man in sight. The passers-by stared at me, ruefully. Then two Negroes stopped me and asked for a light. While I searched my pockets for a match, one of them sank a knife into my belly. I fell. I bled. After a while, I died.Almighty God, who created us in your image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I woke quickly.
I felt my stomach; there wasn't any blood.
I smoked a cigarette and thought about the dream: The assault in the dream seemed unprovoked and vicious. The death in the dream seemed useless and, therefore, all the more expensive. The victim in the dream seemed innocent of offense against those who murdered him. Except, the victim was a white man. The victim was murdered by the black men because he was a white man. The murder was retribution. The motive was revenge.
No white man is innocent.
I am not innocent.
Then I cried.
My People is the Enemy (1964), page 102