I didn’t expect an indictment of Eric Garner’s murderer, and still the announcement of the grand jury’s failure to indict tore something away deep inside of me. I bleed. I know some of you bleed with me.
I was so enraged! As an anti-racist core trainer of more than two decades, I was assaulted by the fact that all of my knowledge of the intimate workings of structural racism and implicit bias failed to keep me from the searing pain of that failure to indict. An indictment is not a conviction; it only makes conviction based on evidence in a court of law possible.
If you enjoy the freedoms of the United States while believing this was truly a Christian nation up until sometime in the last however many years, or if you are convinced there is no such thing as white privilege, please know that I am not talking to you in this blog. I speak to racial justice advocates of faith.
It has never been easy to get people to talk about race in this church but these last two years have been particularly brutal overall. With the widening of our awareness of racial violence by social media to the embrace of that social media by the 24-hour-news-cycle, many more of us are aware of instances of blatant racism acted out by enough law enforcers. But now it looks like stop-and-frisk has become choke-and-hold, and people of good sense are waking up to the need to speak against what is happening. To do that with integrity, we must first understand what is happening.
More and more people are learning there are conversations that need to be had. The awareness of racial inequity is growing.
Michelle Alexander’s, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, has been the talk of racial justice advocates and progressives for more than two years now. The fact that we now have libertarian Ran Paul and conservative Newt Gingrich talking about our nation’s need to address the mass incarceration of men of color shows that the knowledge of this racialized outcome has gone mainstream.
For Christians, it is the compassion of Christ that demands we come together to look deeply into the devastation of this social construct called race. We have all been wounded by this construct.
Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them. Ecc. 4:1
It is the soul of this nation that must be transformed into a soul that nurtures all of us—not just some of us. It is the soul of this nation that must be healed, not because this nation is above all other nations, but because this nation is our home. This is where we live. We are the neighbors Jesus talked about.
We have to talk! We must boldly apply our faith to our feet, hearts and minds and open our ears to listen and our hearts to believe the truths carried within our different realities.
If you are fortunate enough to have a woman who was trained as a peer educator member of Women of the ELCA’s network called Today’s Dream: Tomorrow’s Reality (TDTR), reach out to her now. It is time to start learning things you do not know. She was taught how to help this happen.
Women of the ELCA’s TDTR has had two underlying assumptions since its establishment. One, there is no one alive today that created or volunteered to be born into a racist society. We didn’t start the fire but we are the ones that must put it out. Two, this battle requires the passion and commitment of white people and people of color. We learn how to be allies.
I end this longer than usual blog with hope. The power of hope is irresistible because hope carries healing and nurtures love. May any spark you carry leap forward in flame!
Inez Torres Davis is director for justice.
Photo by Emily Heitzman. Originally posted on Twitter. On Sunday, December 7, worshipers in Chicago took to the streets in peaceful protest following worship.