I talked a little bit about racism in my Psalm 35 reflection for Trinity Sunday, June 7th 2020, so I copied some of that reflection below. I’m not going to have all of the “right answers” whatever that means and will do all of my work of being an anti-racist feminist imperfectly. More bluntly, I’m going to screw up and its not a matter of if but when. But I’m trying to bravely enter the work of being anti-racist (identifying and eliminating racism, especially when it is found in self). I hope you will too.
But back to Psalm 35. Shalom has been broken. A social contract has been broken and innocent people are suffering. Not because of anything they did but because of who they are. This psalm gives voice to the people crying out to God about the situation they are in. The psalmist talks of people suffering unjustly because of their faith. In the gospel of John (John 15:18-25 (26-27); 16:1-4a), Jesus talks about being hated and persecuted and tells the disciples they can expect to be hated because of him. Hatred of the way Jesus lived, taught the disciples to live, and called us to live is based in the world’s rejection of radical love. Love that is inclusive of all people, not regardless of who they are, but because of who they are; unique individuals representing all manner of human diversity. I believe in radical love.
When I read this psalm and the news, it is difficult not to compare the two. I wish I could say something meaningful about the recent horrors of watching yet another black person die simply because they are black living in America. I don’t have words. For now, I am working to educate myself by reading trustworthy news sources, books by black authors, and listening to the community around me in Pittsburgh. I will not but undo burdens on black friends and colleagues to explain it to me. I should be responsible for educating myself and for having difficult discussions with other white people. And I won’t ask them to come to my church zoom meetings as a favor; because this is work; really hard work and they deserve to be compensated for that work. I am lucky to be in a church that values that kind of work and is more than glad to compensate guest speakers.
And I’m trying to be sensitive about what I share on social media in hopes of educating others, that I am not re-traumatizing black people. While it may be important for some to view graphic material to understand what happened, I believe in making that content available with warnings or in comments so that the person simply scrolling can move on without inflicting pain. But I’m hoping to use my social media presence, especially the period pastor facebook page to share information that might be helpful for my followers (recently I reached 200 page likes, which is a small number in the grand scheme of things but I can’t pretend this is just my parents liking and sharing my stuff. And regardless of how many it is, for me it is important to know that people are watching my example).
I know that by embracing feminism I have stumbled into embracing white feminism. I’m going to get things wrong, but when I know better I will do better. I believe that feminism can and should be good for everyone. I believe in radical love.
Let us pray: Holy Triune God, purge my sin with your refining fire and pull me up from the ashes that I may be renewed to do your work in my embodied and online communities. Help me to recognize and listen to the pain of those who are sinned against, especially those of black people. Our world is set up to favor the strong and the privileged, but your will is for those who are marginalized to be exalted and the mighty to be brought down. Holy God, work among your people so that we may help to create a new social contract in which all members of society are honored, cared for, and loved. Breathe on me breath of God, fill me we love anew, that I may love as you love and do what you would do. Amen.
I know that a lot of resources and book lists are making their way around social media about Racism. This is one of the most extensive ones I’ve seen and it was put out by the University of Pittsburgh. Resources at the Intersection of Religion & Racism, the History of the Black Church, and anti-Racism Work Compiled by Dr. Brock Bahler, including suggestions from Dr. Keisha N. Blain, Dr. Waverly Duck, Dr. Rachel Kranson, Dr. Clark Chilson, and Dr. Paula Kane: Follow this link for a brief introduction to “Religion, Race, and Racism.”
Below are some images I’ve taken from social media that include other resources. I’m noticing that one is from More Light Presbyterians which focuses on affirming LGBTQ+ folks in Presbyterian Churches but the sentiment seems to apply to racial injustice too; You are a beloved child of God.