January 10, 2018
This week, I had an epiphany. No. Really! I discovered something that blew my mind. I attended the Village of Hope meeting on Monday, and was transformed.
I noticed the faithfulness of those in attendance. There were Plymouth members who were happily in the circle, engaged in conversations on white privilege and antiracism, and my heart felt full of joy. These conversations are never easy. However, dialogue is the beginning of finding our way toward healing and wholeness to which God in Jesus Christ calls.
I also felt the frustration of committed ones who have attended meetings, read the books and done some internal work, but are looking diligently for marching orders. Ultimately, my heart is full of gratitude and pride that as a community, Plymouth is doing this transformative work of dismantling racism and white supremacy together. However, as a prophet, I often struggle because I am happy to sound the alarm and put words into the vacuum spaces of power that often have no testimony or witness from the unheard to support the call of the Spirit.
In those moments, I felt the responsibility to craft part of our way forward. Here are some steps we might engage together:
- Resist tribalism. Sometimes the work of antiracism gets sidetracked because of deeply meaningful relationships to those who are in different places on the spectrum of transformation. It is important to honor our relationships. However, one must also recognize that often, the way we connect to one another is also a salute to homogeneity and sameness. There must be an admittance that doing this work is full of risk, and may impact our social circles and intimate relationships. Everyone will not be willing to take on this challenge; however, for those who dare, may you proceed with courage.
- Scrutinize the things you hold most dear. In my opinion, humans fear loss more than they fear change. Under traditionalism, then, is the anxiety that moving toward new realities may mean loss of control and the change of the landscape of the church. Antiracism is not for the faint of heart, and often the agent of change will be deemed a troublemaker. This is understandable, and I contend part of the process. For those who are looking for what they can do, this is the work that must happen. Ask the hard questions: How is white privilege written into our documents? Into the way we do committee work? Worship? Mission and ministry? Be honest and willing to impact change on every level of how we do church, and we will see Plymouth as its best expression. Recognize that God may be calling us to let go of one thing to return unto us more than we could imagine.
- Acknowledge that the work is for all of us, not just people of color in our midst. Yes. Some of the movement of dismantling privilege is a faithful act of hospitality. It is honoring the other, making sacred space and lifting the voices of the unheard. And, our work is an acknowledgment that racism hurts the dominant culture, as well. All of us can be liberated through the holy work of antiracism. It cannot simply be to understand the folk of color around you. Yes. You can do antiracism, even if there are no people of color around you. Sometimes, having none around is even better, for they will not endure the microaggressions while the healing happens.
There is so much more we can do. And these are some beginning steps that will lead us to a new level of grace for one another, and make us ready for what lies ahead. Know that I pray for us all as we embark on this journey, and that God guides our every step. Blessed be. – Rev. Kelle Brown
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