I invited our team into a conversation about racism and injustice. My heart was heavy. As a black man, the senseless and inhumane murder of George Floyd shook me to the core, and I was having trouble keeping up with my emotions. I was angry.
I recognize that this atrocity is not an isolated event but is, in fact, a display of the deeply racialized society we live in. I acknowledge that systemic racism is present here within Manitoba as well. I’m convicted for my silence and for not being a voice for the voiceless. I seek repentance for the ways in which I have not been a part of the solution. I have a choice. I can choose to cower away in fear and be overcome by helplessness, or I can press in.
To me, a big part of pressing in means having conversations. Lots of intentional conversation. I need to embrace having uncomfortable discussions. I need to welcome the opportunity to share my experience and learn from others. I need to understand what it looks like to make daily choices that reflect my desire to stand alongside the oppressed. Could I invite you to initiate and join in conversations regarding this in your context?
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those that are already engaging. I see you. Your courage inspires me. I realize that stepping into these conversations is not easy, yet its where we must start if genuinely desire to bring awareness and change. Thank you to each one of you for sacrificing comfortability for the sake of understanding. As you read some of the reflections from within the MBCM team, I pray that you feel brave enough to engage in conversation with humility, love and grace.
is that we would be churches that are willing to have courageous conversations. To be open to discovering what it is that God may be inviting us to learn. How can we be genuinely curious in seeking to paying attention to the Holy Spirit at work in our midst.
I’m thankful for many friends that are extremely gracious to me, friends who encourage me to be genuinely curious, not to assume or to pre-judge, or to pretend to figure things out on my own – but rather to listen, to ask what feels at times like awkward or silly questions, and to seek to truly understand.
I have learning to do, and I believe we as the church have much to learn in regards to racism in our midst. My prayer is that we can be genuinely curious together, graciously exploring with those around us what it is to learn what we need to, and then to have the courage to change.
I have found myself surprised and saddened by what is happening in our world. As I sit with these emotions, I realize that my surprise perhaps speaks to my lack of understanding of a reality that exists daily for many. I have always been aware that our world was filled with injustice, but perhaps I could also say that I’ve allowed myself to sit at a “safe distance away.” The fact that I have had the choice speaks to my privilege, something I have also been thinking about.
In my sadness, I’ve grieved all that I’ve seen and heard. I’ve grieved that it has taken a social media explosion to awaken us of something that is not new. I grieve that humanity is so broken. This has, to some extent, kept me “frozen” unsure of what to say or how to respond. I am scared. In my vulnerability, I am afraid to be wrong or to say something that isn’t right. But I realize I must respond, and Christ calls us to “act justly” (Micah 6:8).
So here are three words I’ve chosen to embrace in my response, listen, learn and lament. I want to press into the pain and the emotion, engage in the conversation by listening to the stories of those who are willing to share when I reach out and intentionally ask. I will commit to learning, reading more, and not staying at “a safe distance away.”
Finally, I will lament humbly. I lament how I have perpetuated this issue, I lament the brokenness that exists in our world, and I lament because at the very core, racism grieves the heart of our Creator, who created every living thing and saw that it was good.
It’s a line that I’ve heard a lot in the early stages of the pandemic of 2020. And we have been. We’ve taken care of the vulnerable by staying at home when possible. We’ve cared for those who might suffer more acutely from COVID-19 by keeping our distance. Here in Manitoba, it seems we’ve done well.
In the last week, our attention has been drawn to another place of vulnerability. Specifically, the systemic racism that exists around us. We haven’t done particularly well. We may not have noticed it, but more likely, we didn’t look. Systemic racism is here, and it might be closer than we thought. It’s time to learn. It’s time to get it. You don’t need to have the answers; I know I don’t. But I do know we’re in this together. Some good news? I’m pretty sure Jesus showed us the way.
once again, confronted by my privilege, specifically the privilege of having choices. As the voices of people who have been silenced rise, I can choose to listen – to turn my ears and my heart towards their suffering – or I can bury my head into my everyday life and wait until it blows over. But Jesus tended to the suffering, the disregarded, the weak and the voiceless and since I choose to follow Him, I am trying to do the same. Sometimes with courage and strength, sometimes with reluctance and fear. My prayer sounds like the word ‘selah’ feels. Selah – stop and listen.