In this episode:
No one really needs to hear my words about racial injustice right now, but I do think someone needs my voice. There is a difference between throwing words out there and being a voice. We can be a voice with few words. Being a voice means I have not passed on by or pretended I did not see.
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I have wrestled for two weeks about what to say. First, my own life was pretty overwhelming for reasons too many to tell. And then so much was happening in the world.
I don’t think anyone really needs to hear my word or a long pontification on anything. But I do think they need my voice. There is a difference between throwing words out there and being a voice. I can be a voice with few words.
I posted this on social media the other day:
I had planned to release an image of my new book cover this week. I decided to wait a few days because the timing wasn’t quite right in light of all that is happening around us. I couldn’t just move forward and pretend as if I saw nothing. I will share the book image in a day or two, but for today, this is what’s on my heart. No one needs my words, empty as they are. I don’t need to give a long explanation of how I’ve arrived at my point of view. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that other human beings have cried out for help, and whether or not I understand all of the implications behind their cries, I hear the pain. I hear the plea for someone to listen, to notice, to validate, to at least pause long enough to pay attention and not pass on by pretending not to see or hear.
I’m listening, learning, and taking off my perspective lenses to borrow the lenses of others who have had a different experience from my own. So much about my own life journey hasn’t been easy or simple. Yet, I know nothing of what it is like to heap racial inequality or injustice in the path along with the other challenges. Nothing.
We grew up saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day in school. But now I realize that the words are empty if I cannot speak where liberty and justice have been oppressed. I am inept, inadequate, and ignorant, but that can change. I’ll start with being inquisitive and intent, informed and invested in what it takes to make a difference.
Let’s frame this in the context of repurposing, with before and after.
The reason that silence is considered an endorsement of inequality is that it means we have either had one of two things happen:
- We have heard the message and we don’t agree that there is a problem.
- We have heard the message and we think there is a problem, but we don’t care.
Let me propose a third option:
- We have heard the message, but we are helpless and don’t know what to do.
God is changing me and repurposing in how I respond. And because of that, I think we can eliminate the third option, which is why I believe it’s frustrating for those who see our silence.
If I see injustice, and I at least say something. I’m ill-equipped to make a difference on my own, but imagine if we ALL spoke up when we saw injustice. For example, these are things I have noted in the past and kept silent about:
- The number of lead roles in Hallmark movies that are played by a white woman who has a black woman as her assistant. Until Meghan Markle, there were almost no leads that were anything but white. Not to mention the lack of representation by any other diverse race or ethnic background. [See this article from National Geographic to distinguish between those.] Since Meghan became a princess, we’re back to the sparse representation.
- Words have been spoken by family members or friends that generalize black people as “they” without true attention to humanity.
- People on airplanes not making eye contact with or speaking with seatmates who are darker skinned.
- The reactions of people when someone who is white dates a black person.
- Casual comments and jokes.
- When someone was overt about how having a black family as home renters wasn’t a good idea.
Breaking the silences doesn’t mean we have to be outrageous or go into a rage. It can be as simple as saying, “I respect you, but I can’t endorse that statement.”
Breaking the silence doesn’t mean I endorse every angle or every voice. It just says I hear you, I see, I’m willing to be respectful. I will not live in fear of being misunderstood. I can’t afford to pass by and pretend I don’t see. There are human beings who need love and support.
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
We can begin by not passing by on the other side of the road—literally or figuratively. We can begin by kneeling in compassion beside our brothers and sisters who have received unfair treatment and are hurting.
Michael Hyatt and Megan Hyatt Miller had a helpful discussion on the Lead to Win podcast. They also had a couple of resources listed there including several that I have added to my reading list. See: What does this Moment Require of Me as a Leader?
Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrison and others.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin J DiAngelo
I’m adding one of my own too:
Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice by Eric Mason (Moody Publishers)
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(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. ) *This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.
Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.
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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.