Timothy Harakal

The Journey Tower Grove

It’s hard to even know what to say, and I’ve let that hold me back from saying anything for a long time, for too long. Growing up in a predominantly white part of Austin, TX, in a predominantly white church, school, boy scout troop, etc., I just never even thought about people or communities of color, and if I’m being as honest as I should be – that didn’t matter to me, because I was in my bubble and was fine. And unfortunately, I fear that that is a lot of how I have continued to live. I grew up in a culture of folks who would often explain away systemic racial injustice with a myriad of different reasons, and I was used to hearing reasons why Texans didn’t want any more Hispanics coming into our state and why many African-Americans have a hard time in this country just because of the choices they make. There are so many other shameful lies I have heard and believed. But in the last two years especially, I’ve become increasingly sickened with how sick my own heart is. Moving to St. Louis, I have been around more African-Americans than ever before in my life, become close with black friends, work for black bosses, and found myself uncovering all these buried implicit biases, stereotypes, and sadly, racism that is deep in my heart. I thank God for moving me to this city, placing me in a place where I can no longer ignore the unjust treatment of African-Americans in this country, and in this proximity – making me realize how little I feel or care about their pain. Lord, forgive me for not knowing about “what happened in Ferguson a while ago,” since at the time, I didn’t think it mattered to me since it was too far away. Lord, forgive me for being largely indifferent to the suffering of the oppressed around me, thinking that just prayer is enough. Lord, forgive me for hearing about these realities from those close to me and not truly entering into their pain and letting proper lament move me to lean in and act. Lord, forgive me for it having to come to George Floyd’s death for me to wake up and realize how much injustice against people of color in this country is truly deeply ingratiated and continues to persist. Lord, forgive me for using the excuse that “I’m doing enough to make a difference in other areas,” so I don’t need to think about all this. Lord, forgive me for using the excuse of “being an advocate for missions” – for the unreached peoples of the world – to mean that I don’t need to be an advocate for the rights of those being discriminated against in this country. Lord, in my not knowing what to do or how to do it, I am genuinely fearful that I will just move on – having given some token, superficial thought and care to this issue without any tangible action, and letting that trick me into thinking, “I’ve done what I can.” Please help me help others now, Lord. Please help me use my privilege, now that I am finally understanding some of this. Please help me continue to understand – and DO something. And thank you for a church community where I feel like I can be real about how I feel and work messily towards what is true and necessary.