Paradox is that strange place where two things are true at the same time. Often, the two things seem diametrically opposed. This idea that two things can be true at the same time is foundational to understanding good white racism. Statements like “You are a good person, and you are also a racist” are, essentially, paradoxes. The idea of paradox allows us to look and to see; it opens us up to the possibility that we may have something deep within us that needs to be rooted up, examined, and called to task. Very often, that truth is that despite our best efforts, people you and I would consider good (ourselves included) very often hold hierarchical thinking, placing more value on one thing than another. Paradox is important because once we embrace its existence, we can begin to journey into our shadow side.
This goes against everything we like to believe in America – and trust me when I tell you, it does nothing to simplify things. No one longs for simplicity more than I do, believe you me. But where we love to define things as – no pun intended – black and white, the truth is usually somewhere in the grey. Paradox is at the core of what I’m trying to say in this book – that crazy idea that a person can be both kind and kind of an asshole, all in one body. All in one minute.
From “Good White Racist? Confronting Your Role in Racial Injustice” by Kerry Connelly – Westminster John Knox Press