The Emptiness of My White Privilege
I’m okay with being white. I’ve never been another color so I can’t really comment intelligently on what that is like. I’ve been told that my whiteness yields benefit in our nation. I won’t likely be racially profiled. I will probably never be pulled over for being white. I’ll also probably get chosen last for the pick-up basketball game – ouch, see I’m short too. But does my white skin yield anything of value?
On a recent business trip, the Lord afforded me a front-row seat to the hopelessness of the human condition. I spent some time in a casino, sort of. My hotel had an attached casino and not having been in one since before-Brad, I sat at the adjacent Starbucks! vicinity the slot machines, sipping my double short Americano, watching the action.
– No one pulls a lever anymore. I only saw a few slot machines with an actual lever which makes sense because the lever pull slows the play. The button is way faster.
– People smoke in a casino! Not having been in a casino in nearly two decades, I had forgotten that people actually smoke indoors in some places.
– They were giving away free bottles of vodka. A valid casino card entitled one to a nice bottle of Pinnacle whipped.
– Slot machines are an amazing source of passive income. The casino never closes and a casino worker confirmed for me that there are always people playing the slots, even during the witching hours of the early morning.
– This was serious business. Sure, there were the random few who haphazardly dropped a few bucks in the nearest machine for fun while waiting on a friend because, you know, you just never know. Yet for most, this was business. No one smiled. No one laughed. Most sat hypnotized, dragging on their cigarettes, clutching their bottle of free vodka, while mindlessly inserting coin after coin, dollar after dollar.
– There were no black people.
As I observed, a single black man walked by and I noticed for the first time that most players were older white people: old ladies with perfectly manicured perms, old men in track suits with huge glasses and confused looks on their faces, old couples sitting side-by-side not noticing one another as they fed the machines, most smoking, and almost all white.
Obviously, plenty of black people play slot machines, but I was reminded that this is what my supposed privilege buys; this is the fruit of white privilege – the pursuit of a false promise, the worship of a vain idol.
Here they sit, mindlessly dropping dollar after dollar into a machine while tapping a little button as fast as they can, hoping for the promise of cash. It never happens. No one wins except for the house. You don’t think they build these opulent altars to false hope from snack bar proceeds do you?
Legions of privileged old white people bow like zombies before these golden calfs – $tinkin’ Rich! Moolah! Treasures of Troy!
I even saw one lady hit a jackpot. The machine lit up and spit out a handful of coins with the characteristic jangling sound and I anticipated a cheer, something. She didn’t move, didn’t react, didn’t break from playing. She immediately began inserting the coins she’d just won. I guess the amount wasn’t enough to merit quitting or the prospect of winning more just too tantalizing. Another lady moved from one machine to another, looking for a hot one. Perhaps a new machine would warm up a bit.
This is privilege? This is hope? I serve a God who tells me,
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,
Blessed is the man, happy is the man, who puts his hope in the God of the Bible, in Jesus. He is my foundation, my rock, my cornerstone. When all else in life fails, when everything seems to come crashing down around me, when the insanity of the world overpowers my senses, I remember that all things will perish, they will all wear out like a garment, but He will remain. He is the same and His years will have no end. (Hebrews 2)
And His love for me knows no bound, no end. He loved me in that while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. (Romans 5:8) God sent His only Son to the cross as an atoning sacrifice for my sins and that is something that can never be taken away. No matter what the world does to me, no matter what I do to myself, no matter what snares the enemy may set for me, I have been adopted as a son, a child of the King and I may forever cry, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6)
And God is no respecter of persons. He has no regard for race or age or socio-economic status or gender. In heaven, I am assured of worshipping forever alongside brothers and sisters from every nation, tribe, peoples, and language. (Revelation 7:9)
This is privilege.
Maybe my whiteness yields a certain privilege…before men. It buys me exactly nothing where it matters most, in the economy of God. The Lord simply has no regard for my white skin. I have a far greater privilege. I have the privilege of knowing the Lord Jesus, and in Him, I have an unwavering hope. You may know Him as well, no matter the color of your skin.
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).