Shall we begin on our Lenten anti-racist journey?
Steps 1-50 billion: Listen to the stories of Black people in America. What is most important here is that you LISTEN without talking or asking or questioning or challenging. Just listen. Don’t even ask your “black friend,” because if you’ve made it this far and they haven’t already told you some of their stories or you haven’t bothered to ask, you are not as close as you think you are.
After over a year of solid listening, one thing I know is that “black friends” and Black people with an online presence are asked every day to explain the injustices they have encountered. They are exhausted. It is not their job to show white people how they have been mistreated by society. It is our job to recognize that injustice occurs.
Every single story you will encounter is valuable and necessary. Allow me to re-emphasize the word, LISTEN, because that is now your primary job. You can read books or follow people on social media (but no questions!) or watch interviews. Just listen.
Step 2: As you listen, you will begin to recognize the parts of your heart that need changing. Maybe you will see that your definition of a “safe neighborhood” meant one with no color or that your choice of a “good school” meant one with fewer free and reduced lunch kids. Maybe you find yourself defending an entire organization for “one bad cop” but ignoring the laments of a chorus of Black families who must teach their children to “keep your hands visible at all times” while shopping. Once you stop doubting the stories of Black people, you will know you are ready to act. Welcome.
Step 3: Act. Find a cause you believe in. Learning is critical, but action is paramount if we want to see change. You would be surprised at the issues that seem to affect all people but affect people of color at a much greater rate. Voting rights, health care, housing, and affordable childcare are just a few. Even student debt is a burden that disproportionately affects people of color. Find an issue you care about, any issue, and dig in. I bet you’ll find a way to make a difference.
And, finally, but firstly, Step 0: This step you can do right this very minute. Click through to Austin Channing Brown’s newsletter from this past week titled “Dear Nice White People” and read it. What she says is gold.
Servant of God, Thea Bowman, we ask that you travel with us as we uncover the racism in our country and our church that you worked so hard to reveal during your life. Pray for us.