"To admit racism" (Zach Baker)

Zachary Baker

November 11, 2018

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church; Ferndale, Michigan


My name is Zachary Baker. And I am a racist.


Those words might’ve stung your ears. Might’ve sounded too shocking; you might be expecting a confession of something singular I’ve done. Well, brothers and sisters, whatever the matter, it is true though. I am a racist.


Sometimes we think we need or should be the scribes and wear loud colors and let everyone know: I AM LIBERAL. I LOVE ALL. I DO NOT SEE COLOR. And well that’s nice. But that’s not even close to being out of the woods with the issues this society faces whether you think it does or not. Our society is a complex jungle. And the constructs built to feed it are steeped in racism and it is hurting us. ALL Of US.


100 years ago, the first war on the global scale in the modern era ended with nations hoping it would be the last. Here in the United States, we sent our regiments abroad to fight for American security and liberty. Today we honor all those who fought for American values. Those who fought for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


But brothers and sisters, what happens when we confront the FACT, that not all have enjoyed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? What happens when we learn that some veterans came home both from the First World War, Second World War, and even, Vietnam War to nation whose basic values were not present in their communities? Did they fight in vain? Did they die in vain? Of course not. Our values are worth fighting for, they are worth defending but the next step is to ensure these values are accessed by all in society. But to do that we must accept the fact that from 1492 thru today this very day, this has never been true. That is a fact.


Let us look at some facts:

-There are more black men in the prison now then were enslaved in 1850.

-Black women are three to four times more likely to die than their white counterparts; this is rate higher than that of Mexico, where 50% of the population lives in poverty.

-And interestingly, Hispanic and black smokers are less likely to receive cessation advice and aid than their white counterparts.


The facts are numerous. The facts are sobering. But this is the ultimate fact: racism is destroying our society. Whether it is destroying and dividing us overtly, such as in Charlottesville, it is destroying us covertly, with acts of bias and use of coded language that perhaps we shrug off. These are not holy things. They are not from God.


Brothers and sisters, today we live in a complex time. We are ever present in a complex space. For we know racism is bad. Racism is evil. Racism is sin. However, we enjoy the fruits of history, creating institutions and structures based in a power center that excluded others from entering. And here in America, it was white. It was male. It was free. And well into the 20th century, the American family was a white family. It was everything people wished they could be. Such as Takao Ozawa, Japanese immigrant, and Bhagat Thind, and Indian immigrant, who tried to claim they were white, but their 1922 cases in the Supreme Court, 3 months apart, were against them. But those on the outside, these outcasts live in what queer and Chicana author and intellectual Gloria Anzaldua calls the “borderlands”, are expected to conform to the “norms” of the center whenever they have permission to enter. This center is specious, and it is arbitrary. And it moves, it is not stagnant. But for many of us, this is where we live most of the time. This is where we feel comfortable. And that is perfectly OK. But brothers and sisters, for Christ we must comfort the afflicted and in Christ we afflict the comfortable. We must blow the trumpets of Joshua and destroy the Jericho that is racism born out as white supremacy because those walls are filled with hollow lies of this idolatrous ideology and they stand on the sands of injustice.


Do not mistake this for demanding you come along with me. Obviously, there is free will. But to ignore societal ills, of which racism is the National Sin, capital N capital S, is to ignore Christ outright. I do not stand here asking for your guilt or shame. Guilt and shame bring nothing. I stand here today asking you to walk with me on the journey to create a society in which all of God’s children blessed to be an American has access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is the call of the Christian in American society today. {Trying to build God’s kingdom on earth by living out God’s own call for each of us in order to work for the building of this kingdom.}


Our Baptismal Covenant in the Episcopal Church includes the following vow:

PG 417.


Folks, the journey is hard. The journey has no end date because that all depends on us. We must always be striving. We need to learn. Seek resources. Know the history. Teach our communities. We must always be seeking the eradication of racism. We must always be seeking the Truth. Wherever it comes from. Whatever it will cost us.


There is no salvation from Christ Jesus in racism or in the white supremacy that upholds our society. And there is no better joy in knowing that we are all working towards a society transformed by us and with God’s help from the Holy Spirit, break the chains of our division.


May it be so

Clare Hickman