Greetings in the name of Christ!
Racism has been in the news a lot recently; since the death of George Floyd at the hands of white officers in Minneapolis, MN in May we have been experiencing a new wave of protests and cries to dismantle the unjust systems that exist in our country. While we have had moments like this before, this moment seems different, because this time it feels as though we are waking up a little more; this time the group that needs to act, white Americans, is starting to act. In places all over the Southern United States flags and monuments dedicated to a way of life that was based on the subjugation of one group of people by another are being dismantled, disparities in health care are being highlighted by the drastic toll that Covid-19 has taken on communities of color and corporations are finally rethinking the messaging of brands that have been around for decades. We are waking up, and realizing that we must do something. We must move from the silence of simple being “not racist” to the action of being “anti-racist”.
What is the difference? being non-racist means we feel comfortable about the way that society is right now. When confronted with the brutality that still happens daily to our brothers and sisters of color we respond “well I don’t see color” or “I have never used a slur” and we sit, silent and overwhelmed by the idea of changing the status quo. Being “anti-racist” means acting. It means education ourselves on the true history of race in America. It means seeking out and truly listening the voices of our siblings of color, it means realizing that we have a unique position of privilege that allows us to work from the ‘inside’ to change things for all Americans. It means having a knot in our stomach at the injustice of our society and a fire in our belly to change it. Being “anti-racist” means seeking to be an ally, seeking to create meaningful connections with people of color and working together to make the changes that need to be made.
It is time for us to move from “not-racist” to being “anti-racist”.
And this move is hard. It hurts. It hurts because in order to move in an “anti-racist” direction we need to acknowledge that we have been complicit in a racist system; and admitting that hurts to the core of our being. Our hackles immediately come up and we want to defend ourselves “I have never…”. Yet, to move forward we must work through the pain in our stomach and the desire to defend ourselves, we must move through reaction to come to a place of compassionate response. We need to stop talking and listen. We need to learn.
It might seem like learning is an overwhelming thing, how can we change everything? We can’t, but we can start by being intentional and learning. To that end I have included below a list of links to resources that can help us move toward being “anti-racist”. Most of them are from the ELCA, however you can also go to both Hulu and Netflix to watch movies and documentaries highlighting the voices of people of color. You will find them under headings like “black voices” or “black experience”. If you do an internet search for Black Lives Matter you will find podcasts and resources, or if you have apps like Spotify you might find resources on black voices.
I encourage you to educate yourselves. I will be working to hold educational events and opportunities both online and when we are able to gather together again. I pray that together we will be moved by the Holy Spirit to work toward a society that is truly free and just for all people.
ELCA presiding bishop issues message on COVID-19 racism, white supremacy
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