A Love Letter

Tripp Hudgins, Privileged Straight White Male
Berkeley, CA
United States

I miss you.

I have missed seeing you in the streets and in the market. I remember being in school together and passing you in the hallways and seeing you in class, but that was so very long ago. We went to different colleges and simply never stayed in touch. We blamed it on distance and time.

These things happen, you know. People grow apart. But we loved one another once.

I do miss you but it wasn’t until recently that I realized how much I miss you. It wasn’t until I stood with my back pressed against the cold hard wall of my own white male privilege that I realized that I missed you as much as I do.

I was standing there in my living room watching the election returns. My social media feed was awash in polling data and demographic guesswork. People like me were voting to make sure that people like you are put to the side. Eighty-one percent of evangelicals voted for Donald Trump and, whatever their reasons were for voting for him, they voted against your best interests. A majority of the so-called liberal mainline Protestants voted for Trump.

They voted against your welfare, my friend. We voted against your welfare. We voted to keep you down.

I didn’t know just how white my world had become. I had inklings. Of course. But I live in a diverse city. I work amidst incredible diversity. It’s easy to think I’ve burst the bubble of whiteness. Yet when “my people” stand up, my people are almost always to a last white. And we have no love for you. We “have your interest in mind” but we do not love you.

We do not hold your common good with our own. We have decided for you and your good and our good must be different. And now that there are so many of you, my black, brown, and LBGTQ friends, we just cannot vote with your good in mind. We cannot. We have to vote you away somehow.

This is what I have learned this week. We are always trying to erase you. There is no slave or free. There is no male or female. We are erasing you to make certain of that. And we are using our faith to make it permanent. 

Dear God, I am heartbroken. I did not know. I did not see. I did not hear you. 

I thought you had gone far away from me and now I finally see you marching in the streets, my streets. I see your family, your brothers, sisters, and your neighbors ... dying in those streets. 

You have been there right in front of me all along and I have not seen you. I have refused to see you.

It is I who must change. 

It is because of my blindness that I have missed you. You did not go away. You did not move. I did. I left. I covered my eyes and plugged my ears. I chose to live so that you would always be at a distance from me. I made it possible for you to disappear from my view. 

I cannot ask your forgiveness. I can only repent. I can only uncover my eyes and listen deeply for your voice. I do not expect you to love me again. Why would you? 

But I can love you. I can love you as you are here before me. I can love. Again. And maybe ... some day we can find that place again before I missed you.