Having grown up in the south, where conversation can’t work without idioms sprinkled in, my vocabulary includes a bit of homespun wisdom that not all of you may grasp. Sitting pretty may be one of those.It describes someone who is doing well, who is in an advantageous position, possibly because she is financially secure.
I would guess that most of my friends are sitting pretty. They have consistent work and income; some maintain a lavish lifestyle in many ways; but almost all of them have money and time to use as they desire. It’s hard for me to say that I am sitting pretty if I compare myself to them, but I really am. If I say that I am not, I have likely forgotten that there are ways to be privileged other than financially.
My parents were not rich in any way. They both worked, and for years my father worked two jobs to make ends meet for our family of four. And yet they left me sitting pretty in many ways. They made it clear that I would graduate from college prepared to get a job. They let me know that they expected me to do my best in school and were never happy with grades that indicated that I hadn’t tried. They taught me to be honest and how to interact with adults in respectful ways. I went to a 99% white school where I attended advanced classes. All of my friends were headed to college, and we all graduated and easily obtained jobs. I have had options and open doors, real chooses for life.
But what about those who aren’t sitting pretty? What about minorities that don’t sit pretty but instead have high hurdles to jump to get where we are? They face a disadvantage from the get-go.
This week I heard a panel of women, both white and black, discuss the American racial issue. As I listened to the African-American women tell stories about injustice and hatred directed toward them or their children, I truly realized that they do not have the opportunity to sit pretty in the same way that I do. Although they are highly educated, sharp women who are leaders in their fields, authorities are suspicious of them and often treat them and their families unjustly.
Although I am not responsible for where I sit, I am responsible to speak out on the inequities and injustice that looks at someone’s skin and assumes, putting them in categories because of what they look like rather than basing judgment on truth.
This pre-judging that sweeps social media every time something happens must stop. We as Christians must not add to it, but we must take the lead to question it every time we see it. From our vantage point of sitting pretty as white Americans, we must call out those who suppose and prejudge without a clue about the real truth of the matter but based on stereotypes and prejudices.
Let’s be catalysts of change so that we seek the full story and the truth before making judgments about who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. Likely there is guilt on both sides. Leaders step up and speak out.
If you are white and don’t believe that you sit pretty, ask God for sight to see and read more about the issues. A good place to start is White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (scroll down beyond the Notes for Facilitators to the essay.)