Today, I intended to share the answers I collected from questions regarding the impact of COVID-19. However, responses are still pouring in from: “With all the hatred, violence, anger, pain, and sadness going on right now, how do you think we move forward; how do we make a difference?” This is a big picture life question—a painful, we all have value, God crying out, “what are you doing?” question. So, we’ll go back to that well again today.
(Like yesterday, I’ve shortened and paraphrased as necessary, due to length, and eliminated overt political references.)
• “I am lost for words. Still trying to process it all & wondering why we black folks are hated so much. Right now, I still can’t figure it out. When I look back at all the different stories that I have heard over the years, I get scared & helpless & pray for peace, love & togetherness.”
• “I know I am feeling like I—being a white person—need to listen and learn, to show people of color that I stand with them in solidarity, and I know I will live my life in a way that people know I am antiracist! They will know me by my love. And I will continue to speak up and against injustice and discrimination.”
• “As a social worker, it is my greatest passion to break down the barriers to social injustice. I work diligently to plant seeds to create systemic changes, and bring to light, what needs to be changed. I advocate for those oppressed and teach and guide other caseworkers/social workers how to advocate for change. We empower individuals to see their own strengths and advocate as well. We provide support when the system fails these individuals. My philosophy is to BE the change. I will continue to look within and work on myself so I do not project my wounds on others. I will continue to lift others in whatever way I need to so they see the light within themselves.”
• “We have to start/continue having honest and vulnerable conversations about race, share our stories and experiences, tap into our feelings, share our biggest fears, and listen to each other with an open heart and mind. Only once we start doing that we can start making a difference. The country is being torn apart right now, and I pray that there is a shift, and we can rise from the rock bottom that we are in. I can’t imagine it getting any worse than it is. It is overwhelming and heartbreaking.”
• “I feel compelled to learn more about racial reconciliation. I have joined a group called “Be the Bridge.” It focuses on racial reconciliation, and I have committed three months to listen in that space. There are educational resources galore, and I am digging in. I think this is a very straightforward way for me to make a difference. I have been stagnant in this respect, and I feel encouraged to have a path forward.”
• “How to move forward? Continually educate ourselves and listen to the vulnerable. They need justice, and we must see and hear them and acknowledge our part in all this. We can learn to do better. Vote for those who will make a positive difference in the lives of the oppressed.”
• “We should be providing group events and civic activities that really teach how the other side lives, by getting to know them by walking in their shoes for a while. We should be learning about each other rather than allowing the extremists in each race to set the tone for everyone.”
Over a decade ago, I was at a black-tie event for a non-profit organization. My date was a respected, black, board member. Except for a mission trip to Honduras, it was the first, and only, time that I was the “minority” in the room, but the difference is that I was treated like everyone else.
Most of my relationships are with people whose skin color is like mine, but some of the most important people in my life are not white. I have so many concerns, but one of them is a fear of complacency. We’re all on high alert right now—united against injustice, waving the flag of equality, on bended knees for solidarity—but what happens in two weeks, two months or two years? This is not an “I’ll attend a peace rally or read about oppression today,” situation.
This is life.
We can replace buildings and possessions.
We can’t replace lives.
I stand outside in the quiet, just before midnight. There is no artificial light. Clouds, not in a hurry, slowly parade past the waxing gibbous moon, suspended there half-bright, not screaming for attention, embracing the beauty of the mass of water particles floating in the sky. I am breathless, yet fully breathing, in the space and time that begs me to settle in, to listen. God whispers, "you cannot manage the world, you can only…" but my words of sorrow drown out the sacred voice. I am still, frozen in that space, sitting in the light. Flaming arrows of irony fly past time untouched for decades. I hear every note individually, each one playing a role in the sacred song. Fear changes us; we forget who we are until we stop to remember. I close my eyes as the tears fall, washing away the sin of the world, washing away my sin.
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