Pay Attention. And Act

Pay Attention. And Act

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Friends,

During our weekly Bridge Conference Minister ZOOM last Thursday I offered some words related to the killing of George Floyd.  Several folks asked that I make them available.  Here is what I said:
 
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
Breonna Taylor

They are names that made horrific headlines in the last two weeks. 

But they are not the only incidents.  They made the news because they were videotaped. 

Others were not.

And in the commentary and reactions you can hear and feel the emotions:

Disheartened despair, Sorrow, Fear, Anger, Rage. 

Disheartening that this just keeps happening

Grief evoked by the story of loss for these families and in our world….again.

Fear…a mask meant to protect you from the COVID virus can put your life in jeopardy from the virus of racism. 

Anger rising to rage from the cumulative impact that this keeps happening. 

I want to confess a reaction tied to my whiteness and speak to you who share that attribute.  I want to calm down the rage: ‘take it easy, don’t act out’.  I want to assure folks that there is no need to fear, these are isolated incidents.  I want to console the grieving.   I’ve been part of statements, some pithy, of hope for the disheartened. 

I want to confess that for me, and for so many white folks, we want to take away the pain.  We claim it is our solidarity, but too often it is because we don’t want to be exposed to those emotions: they are uncomfortable; extremely uncomfortable.  They hold a mirror up to us of complicity, silence and neglect. 

I am asking you to pay attention,  pay attention to those emotions, don’t fix or dismiss them.  Respect and honor them.  And let them into your heart and soul; to the place where awareness and behavior can change. 

I am challenging myself to do this.  I am challenging you. 

I am asking you to act within your community. 
  • Start with yourself.  I grew up in a world where news, and stories and curriculum and TV and culture were full of caricatures and attitudes and ways of being in this world and benefiting from this world that planted racism deeply within me.  I don’t want it, it wasn’t part of what my family believed and taught,  but it is there hardwired within my psyche and the neural pathways of my brain.  I’m not alone in the work that needs to be done. 
     
  • Talk with your church staff and leadership about what your congregation has done to hold the mirror up to itself.  To recognize, unmask, dismantle and eradicate the individual and systemic racism that is so prevalent in all of our communities; all of our communities, even when we don’t think or see it is there.
     
  • Talk with your ecumenical and interfaith partners to see how they are addressing this.  Work with them and support them on efforts in their congregations and your communities.
     
  • Talk with your community leaders in the schools system, fire and police, town offices.  Call, email of visit them to find our what they are doing with their employees around this.  Offer to partner with them and support them.  
     
  • Talk with your business community about how they are working on this issue with their employees and policies.  Partner with them in this. 
     
  • And if you need resources talk with us, your SNEUCC staff.  We have stories of churches that have had significant impact in their school systems and the civic leaders.  We have resources for your church to use within and beyond your buildings and walls.  We are in this together. 
This is our gospel work to do together so that every individual feels safe in our communities to jog, or shop, or work or just breathe. 
 

Photo by Jenny Salita used under Creative Commons

Author

don-remick-2018.jpg
Don Remick

The Rev. Don Remick is Bridge Conference Minister

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