What Are WE Doing?
I wrote a post late last week about my discomfort with staying at home. My outlets are normally work, hiking, biking, and working with people. I am privileged enough to be working from home and still be able to bike and walk around my neighborhood in safety. So damn my discomfort.
I put the post up and immediately took it down, angry with myself for posting about me, when others deserve our attention, my voice. I am here now to rectify that wrong.
Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, the day church goers celebrate the introduction of the Holy Spirit into the disciples. My family has been attending my father’s church in Chicago, IL virtually during the pandemic. If you are interested in the sermon, go here. Key highlight:
And nowhere do WE need this transformation more than in the Church. The Church in America that has been silent for too long because it has been infected too long. The Church has called itself pro-life, but it has regularly supported the politics of death. The Church has been satisfied with the status quo because the status quo has served its purposes and goals. The Church that has more concern for its structures than the structural inequities in the community. The Church maintains an outward appearance of godliness and holiness, but denies its power. The Church is so focused on life in the hereafter that it cannot bother itself with life here and now. The Church has chosen comfort over honest confession and safety over the least of these, our siblings.
I was struck by the moment of silence at the beginning of the service. Cultures use moments of silence to memorialize, to commemorate, to mourn and show respect, but I don’t feel like being silent. I feel like being loud and amplifying others who have been forced for too long to be silent.
I broke my silence on Twitter; it had been almost a year. I want to use that avenue to amplify the voices of those who shouldn’t need amplification by now. In 2020, WE shouldn’t need to be having this conversation because in 2020 WE should have fixed this problem. In 2020, WE should be talking about how to rewrite the history books to better exemplify the work of all the missing voices of the civil rights movement that most white people have never heard of, an act so mundane as rewriting history books is something you do when the work is done.
I hope people have been following Bernice King during this time because she is truly wonderful in every way. She and many others have called on white people to use their voice with other white people. Note these two great examples (and my apologies that I cannot give every person a voice after this colon): Bernice King and Ava DuVernay.
These things start at home; this change starts from within. It is our responsibility white people to talk to those that agree and those that disagree. Only WE white people have the platform that might actually MOVE those racist family members to deal with their own racism, only WE white people have the position to TURN UP THE VOLUME WITH THOSE who are ignored or silenced, only WE white people have the privilege (and therefore responsibility) to stand up when others are battered down and to STAND BETWEEN THOSE WHO ARE BEATEN DOWN AND THAT WHICH THREATENS THEM.
The following are some of the tools that WE white people have to work with that you should note not everyone has: time, money, voice, vote, safety, security, strength, freedom, power, platform, citizenship, support, energy, rest, access (to health care and food, for instance), inherent—yet almost always unearned—trust.
Parents, WE have one of the hardest and most important jobs in all of this: only WE have the ability to teach our children a better way.
My six year old has more context for injustice than my wife ever did growing up in suburban America and that is the problem. My daughter (and my two sons) will grow up knowing that these systems are broken; that they are strong enough to stand in solidarity with their siblings of color against the systems of oppression that work to marginalize and destroy; that they have a responsibility to fight due to their inherited privilege purchased with blood money on the backs of those same people they will fight with and for; that WE therefore owe our siblings of color everything WE can give.
Black Lives Matter. Black People Matter.
Let’s get to work.
Read, Think, Share, Repeat
The Challenges of 2020
TL;DR: Follow this link.
One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the “all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.
My wife and I meet with my “home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.
I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.
In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.
These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.
I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:
Thanks to a $10,000 ‘matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our “2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.
KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.
Thank you for your consideration.