The United States has gone through many changes during 2020. We have experienced a global pandemic, virtual learning, turbulent elections, and protests for and against racial equality. Through all of these events, I have sought to educate myself about what I can do to make a difference – not only in the lives of my family, but also my community.
So, who is my community? In the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus teaches us that everyone is our neighbor and we are to show mercy and compassion to all. I strive to show the love and grace of Christ to everyone I encounter. Over this past year, I think we all have become aware of the systemic racism our neighbors have experienced. You may say that the enslavement of African-Americans is in the past, but when you look at how they have been limited in how much of the “American Dream” they can achieve, you will see that enslavement still exists – just in a different way. You may disagree with their cries, but you no longer can say, “I didn’t know.”
In an effort to educate ourselves, my husband and I have joined a Racial Justice Small Group at our church. It is composed of members of our church, Black and White, who seek to educate themselves on issues and events of systemic racism, learn our personal bias, and seek opportunities to make a difference in our community. During the month of March, I am participating in the YWCA’s 21 Day Racial Equality & Social Justice Challenge. I have been reading articles, watching videos, and listening to pod casts on racial injustices in this country of not just African-Americans, but also Asian-Americans and Native Americans.
You might have learned about the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s in school, the groups of people who helped African-Americans register to vote, and the Jim Crow laws of the South. Did you learn about the James Crow laws of the North, how banks redlined areas, or Black Wall Street? There are many aspects to our country’s history that people would like to ignore. We can no longer ignore what minority groups – Black, Asian, Native American – have encountered. Our actions need to change, but first our thoughts need to change – so our hearts can change.
When I was a teacher, if I wanted to let a student or students know they weren’t meeting classroom expectations, I would say, “Check yourself” to the class. It was a gentle reminder to the class, without calling out anyone by name. I am finding that I need to check myself at times. My hope is by being aware of my thoughts, I can change those thoughts. The enemy likes to get into our thoughts, in hope of manipulating us to commit a sin or multiple sins – like the people who ignored helping the man who laid on the side of the road bleeding to death in the Good Samaritan parable.
You may be asking, “What are those thoughts I might need to check myself on?”
What is your first thought when you see a person of color driving a very expensive car?
What is your first thought when you hear a minority saying certain words “improperly”?
What do you think when you see a woman wearing a hijab?
What do you think when you hear the name White Feather?
What do you think when you see a group of teens who don’t have the same skin color as you?
What do you think when you encounter people who don’t look or speak like you?
Do we let our thoughts control our actions or do they stay simply a thought? The enemy knows that if he can get into your thoughts, he is a step closer to controlling your actions. We need to check our thoughts and make sure our actions are like those of the Good Samaritan. Do we see others the way Christ saw others? Do we have compassion for others the way Christ had compassion? Do we listen to others when they talk to us, like Christ did, or do we talk at others the way the government and religious leaders did? We need to take the time to educate ourselves about what is happening in our communities, listen to the cries of our sisters and brothers, and figure out how to be a part of the solution. Every journey starts by taking the first step, but before we can start we need to check ourselves.