Shame for Change

I saw a thought provoking clip on the Twitters today from The Next Question web series featuring Brené Brown. She is talking about the use of shame as a tool of oppression and supremacy and how that same tool is being used to bring about social change. Check out the short clip:

She mentions someone new to me named Audre Lorde and a portion of a quote she referenced that goes like this:

“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”

Through the journey we have been on, I have found myself in many settings where people were discussing issues of injustice in America. About 80% of the time, I have left feeling more educated about the issue, but more filled with shame and guilt as a white male who happens to have some conservative viewpoints. I felt unwelcome to even be in the room because I didn’t have the right words to say or the right way to act. I have also felt a sense of shame within many of the white people I have encountered in these same spaces. When people are motivated to fight injustice by shame and guilt, it is often temporary and usually pretty ugly.

When I read what many of the prominent social justice fighters of our day say on social media, I leave feeling shame and guilt. I will admit that some of my own words have made my fellow white brothers and sisters feel shame and guilt. For this, please accept my deep apology. I am on a journey and it is sometimes messy.

For those of us who have a heart for overcoming the darkness, hate, injustice and inequality we see in America, I think we need to take a strong look at our words to see if they are heaping further darkness and shame on other people. MLK said something powerful in this vein:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I am going to do my best to speak with love to people in regards to the journey they are on. I know from personal experience that I never budged in my views on race or injustice in America when it came from a voice of shame and condemnation. I was transformed by people outside my tribe who were different than me in almost every way, but loved me enough to speak with me as a brother who was blind but might one day see.

I am not woke and will never claim to be, but I am on a journey to see clearer and clearer every day. Thank you for walking with our family.

Blessings to you today,

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