Moderated by Charlotte, NC talk radio host, Vince Coakley, our Zoom panel unpacks chapter one from "A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation." The chapter is entitled "A Fork in the Road."
I experienced a defining moment this week. I really needed to sit quietly and reflect on the enormous beauty and impact of the Black Lives Matter March in Keller yesterday. I have watched so much of the news coverage over the protests and marches, but I never thought I would be invited to be involved in one. I parked my car at Town Hall at eleven fifteen and noticed people getting out of their cars with signs. I remember being a bit shocked because the attendance expectation for this event was probably 30 not to exceed 200 people. Immediately, I knew this would not be the case! The final count prediction exceeded 3000. When I got to the park, before the march started, I saw people working so diligently to prepare for the community. They were stocking waters, laying out masks and sanitizers, snacks, making signs, among other tasks. I was so excited to finally meet, in person, some of the people who champion the cause of anti- racism as I normally only communicate with them virtually. In A Language of Healing, we emphasize the importance of hard conversations around race, religion, sexuality, and politics. It is nice to connect with others that normalize addressing one of these topics. In addition, I witnessed people willing to be disruptive, as many people who have been non-racist and silent, decided to protest racial injustice and police brutality. It appears this time people have decided to listen up to the concerns of others in the middle of old challenges.
Initially, I saw the local police, doctors for BLM, firemen, voter registrants, members of the Divine Nine, teachers, school administrators, pastors, and leaders, young people, young families, and senior citizens. Also, I noticed interested participants displaying a bit of fear and uncertainty about the rally. It is interesting, that even in the season of COVID 19 and masks covering half of the face, I could see the concern in the eyes. I saw the frustration of people trying to talk through the masks, to meet new people, and engage in conversation. In a situation like this, I would have loved to see the smiles of the people. It would have helped put people at ease. Even so, the feel of the event was caring as well as purposeful. A couple of protesters required medical attention and I saw people of all shades of people rallying to help.
All people. All together. All different. All the same. All ages. All skin tones. All tired of racial injustice. All determined to change the narrative, especially their personal narrative, about race and the racial climate in America.
I believe the positive social change, that has so much momentum catalyzed by the demise of Mr. Floyd, can be sustainable if we are diligent to proactively confront systemic racism and oppression in all areas of society particularly personally. This deconstruction is imperative to authentic racial solidarity. Eliminating racial injustice happens one thought, one decision, one person, one relationship, one safe conversation, one act of compassion, one shared meal at your table, one prayer, one cup of coffee, one meeting, at a time. I find many people feel somewhat helpless in the war against racism, but we all must play a part to challenge racism, bias, prejudice, and discrimination. We can all do something.
Stand for all people and humanize all people. Stand up for what is right.
Make friends with more black and brown people.
Contend for fair treatment, justice, and equality as common ground foundations.
Try to love all people more by understanding their reality.
Challenge yourself in anti-racism practices and language daily.
Build awareness and management around your own implicit bias.
When it was time for the first leg of the 1.3-mile march, I looked in the direction of the route and saw a giant wall of people! It was overwhelming. Most of them carrying signs, some pulling kids in wagons and some calling and others responding to chants! I was approached by a few people who wanted to talk. Three of them stand out to me. All of them male and Caucasian. One of them through tears, thanked me for giving him “something to do” because he has never known what to do. The second one talked about the disconnect between his bible study group and the handling of racist thoughts and comments from Christians. The third gentleman put his hand on his heart and thanked me through tears. In other areas around the pavilion and parking lot, I saw different races of people sharing stories and discovery. I felt like God had given me a Kairos moment to see the heart of A Language of Healing, unfolding right in front of my face. What a confirmation! What a gift!
I am grateful for the many calls, texts, emails, and kind words sent to me by rally participants and my community. I was honored to use my voice for a cause I have championed for a long time. We must address racism at the personal level. We must treat each other better or at least not worse because of difference in skin color. As I challenged the march participants, please allow me to challenge you. How have you challenged your own paradigms around racism? What have you learned recently about racism? What will YOU do today to dismantle racism, racial injustice, and police brutality?
Start at the base level…your own.