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Where’s My Cloak of Invisibility


There are likely few among us who do not know about Harry Potter’s Cloak of invisibility. But for the few, it was a cloak that made whoever wore it invisible to the world around them and allowed them to move about nearly undetected, a very useful tool when surrounded by adversaries. I have no such cloak. But, as I have written before, I learned after attending a Klan march at the naïve age of 17 that white people do, their white skin.


Recently, a young white male moved among shoppers in a grocery mapping out his plan of terror. It wasn’t unusual for white patrons to meander the aisles of the only market for miles. Other than attracting the attention of the security guard as a “shopper” who wasn’t shopping, he went unnoticed. And he was unnoticed when he returned until he raised his gun to carry out his evil plan.


It is hard to comprehend living with the sense that the “enemy” is among us. Perhaps it’s even harder to comprehend knowing that enemy can easily identify its target by the color of their skin. The men and women who served in Vietnam understand this. Those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and anywhere in the world where you are obviously the “other.” I think most people experience a sense of this when they are surrounded by people of a different culture and appearance. But when that circumstance could become dangerous, constant vigilance and paranoia are tools for survival. That constant mental stress is surely a part of the PTSD our servicepeople from conflict zones bear when returning home.


So, imagine being Black in America. I can’t speak for all of us, but it doesn’t take much imagination when the threats are all around to understand the unending, latent fear. Some behind a badge. Some behind a counter. Some on the television. Some in positions of power. Some in pick-up trucks with gun racks and Confederate flags in the windows. (Thanks to those who fly that flag. At least I know who you are.) The list goes on. Constant vigilance and paranoia are tools for my mental survival. Where’s my Cloak of Invisibility?


But the work must go on to unwind our twisted history, to build awareness, relationships and commitment* to fulfill the promise here in our own land that we make to the world.

* Taken from How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice by Jemar Tisby

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