Recently I answered the phone in response to a call from a friend. Her voice was filled with great urgency as she said, “I have to do something! What can I do?” She had just completed the reading of one of the books we had been discussing at church, “Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God” by Kelly Brown Douglas. The book had awakened in her a desire to get involved-- An echo of the words of the late Congressman John Lewis, “When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something.”
Our conversation led me to reflect on events of the past few months. Events such as the global pandemic , the glaring disparities of our health care system amongst people of color, the snuffing out of George Floyd’s life by a careless and indifferent knee on his neck, discriminatory immigration laws - - all signifying the depth of racial inequity and racial injustice in our country.
In response to my friend’s question, “What can I do?” And John Lewis’ injunction, I thought about what I could do in my present circumstances. My reflections led me to think about the undergraduate academic course that I teach. How can I craft the lessons to raise student awareness of the issues of racial injustice and inequity? This week I am redoing my lessons for the Fall semester with this thought as the driving force. I pray that in this small way, I will help to develop citizens who are aware of their moral obligations in response to injustice anywhere.
Over the past few months members of our church have been involved in many activities in response to the racial inequalities and racial injustices that we have been observing. Some of us have marched, others have written about their experiences, read books, participated in discussions, and given presentations. I believe that there has been a great degree of consciousness raising around these issues. We have learned a lot as individuals. We should use our new insights to guide us in future planning and operations at the congregation level.
How do we do this?
At All Saints, we have started the process of change: We have developed and published on our website our racial justice and equity statement. We have linked our message to specific actions that we will be taking as a church. We will continue to cultivate a culture of transparency and acceptance where leaders in the parish create opportunities for all members of our community to share new ideas and recommendations.
As individuals and as a congregation, we will “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression….” Isaiah 1:17.
Lena Mullings, Vestry Member