Often times personal lament and confession overlap. There are moments we see ourselves amid the ashes and we complain, confess, speak out our part in the wrongness of things. Reading the lament Diana offered, this one phrase haunted me relentlessly:
“And sometimes, the betrayer is me.”
I love my brown brothers and sisters. Yet as I scour my own upbringing, I see how my words and actions have betrayed otherwise. It is a systemic wrong, but also a personal one I cannot deny.
“Too often, those who say they love you,
betray you with their words and their actions.
And sometimes, the betrayer is me.” –Diana Trautwein
I am the betrayer.
I am the one who has betrayed my brown brothers and sisters in subtle but undeniable ways. I’ve snickered at ebonics and rolled eyes at names so obviously from a community other than my own. I failed to see names as a way of resistance, a refusal to be assimilated–names as a claim to another place and culture thick with meaning and the power to shape.
I remember laughing (in the privacy of my home) at Kwanza. Instead of seeing people reaching back through history for connection and a celebration with distant kin, I turned my face away and mocked.
Grabbing from so many different African traditions to try and create one festival seemed like grasping for the intangible. So I shook my head. Instead of being open to the possibility that some of that tradition from their motherland would offer nourishment, offer hope, offer God With Us in a way my white Christmas never could.
I betrayed my brothers and sisters when they deserved my love in word and deed.