This story is told in the Christian Testament:
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'" So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me." And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, "Surely, not I, Lord?" (Matthew 26: 17-22)
Recently I had the honor of being a part of a professional religious educator's conference where it became abundantly clear that the facilitators defended our culture's dominant patriarchal, white structure. It was a painful learning opportunity that opened doorways for discussion and reflection on the complexity and invasiveness of the patriarchal, white influence on our current life in the United States. Those who suffered the most pain were people of color.
After this particular program was canceled, new programming was designed to honestly name and reflect on this dominant culture and the true loss we all share because of it's narrow definition. Naturally, myself and many of my white colleagues spent a lot of time wondering who could let this program happen and what they they could have individually done. I heard a lot of statements that began with:
"I should have...." or
"If only I had...." and now
"Next time, I will....."
After the conference, this story about Jesus and the disciples kept ringing through my head. I and my colleagues were wondering...
"Is it I?"
This is a good question that should not be ignored. But is it the most important question. Should we focus more closely on the question:
"Is it WE?"
The answer to this question is yes. It is all of us. We are swimming in a centuries-old, inculturated system that favors light skin and men. If we continue to only look at this through an individual lens that blames others or ourselves, I doubt real change will be able to occur. I wonder... It is time to worry less about who is responsible and focus more on how to make real systemic change?
Is it we?
Yes- yes, it is.
And it will be the WE that acts to bring effective change.