Being a White Witness


Here is one thing that I’ve learned to challenge myself to do when it comes to listening and learning about and leaning into the realities of POC (People of Color).


When I feel like what they are saying doesn’t match my reality or my experience or even what I could even conceive of and thus feels overblown, too sensitive, too angry, wrong attitude, wrong approach, or whatever. I ask myself…

– “What will it cost me to admit that I don’t live in the same reality they do?”
– “What will it cost me to dig deeper and read more about the systems they are complaining about and are declaring unjust?”
– “What will it cost me to FULLY believe them and to give them the benefit of the doubt as well as my unconditional support?”
– “What will it cost me to stand up for them, to be a witness for them, to have my life be one that shows honor where dishonor has been, to show deference where neglect has been, to show preference where disdain has been, to empower where forbiddance has been?”


Generally it costs me very little… maybe my optimistic view of the world around me, maybe my discomfort, people thinking I’m a know it all about black people or anti-white person, at most it could be my point of view that I believe to be right. But usually not much of significant cost to me personally.

BUT what COULD it possibly cost me if I don’t do those things.… friendships, being on the wrong side of justice, apathy, an inaccurate view of history and society, missed opportunities to change the world around me, being a light in the darkness, correcting lies with truth, and treating people as image bearers who are begging us to believe and see the proof that they are not treated as such. (and this is without even taking my black children into consideration)

That’s too great of a cost. That’s the true risk… NOT fully believing and supporting and taking action to change our very lives.


As Believers, we HAVE to believe #blacklivesmatter… as well as the marginalized in our country and in a way that opens our minds to the fact that they haven’t mattered, and haven’t for some time…if ever, here in America.

But do we begin? where does change in our perspective start happening?

It can start with…. the questions you ask, the things you google, the articles you take the time to read, the movies you watch, a smile and eye contact to someone passing by, a saying you don’t say anymore, or a neighborhood you stop avoiding, or a grocery store you stop slamming, or a relative you speak up to when a joke is made, the car locks you don’t reach for when someone is approaching, the name you remember and strive to pronounce correctly, the dialect you don’t dismiss, the overgeneralization you stop making, the catching yourself when you think or feel something, the misunderstanding you will face, the church you attend, the ability to say I’m sorry, the books you read to your kids, the schools your kids go to, the person you approach, the people you follow on social media, the stranger you stick up for, the friendships you cultivate, the privilege you relinquish, the humility you show, the dignity you affirm.


Let’s be white voices who become witnesses to what the black voices around us are saying. Let us change our thinking, raise our voices and open our arms. It will cost us something… but it’s far less than what it will cost us if we don’t.

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  • Vanessa JencksAugust 5, 2017 - 11:25 am

    I love you, and I love this.

    I didn’t realize I hated all men until I moved to China. Then I stopped being scared of any strange man who talked to me. I wondered how I got so scared of men there? My sexual abuse experiences weren’t all to blame. A lot of it was media, social media, and prejudice. Racism and prejudice are both sneaky, and it takes a very discerning eye to be able to see them in one’s own heart.ReplyCancel

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