Sunday, August 17, 2014

on ferguson.

I've been trying to read widely and stay engaged with the events unfolding in Ferguson, MO, not letting the physical distance between Seattle and Ferguson, or my own heaps of privilege, allow me to disengage or downplay what the past week has revealed about the state of racial relations in our nation.  More than anything, it spurs me on to pray for the Kingdom of God, which is characterized by a laying down of privilege and power and weapons, allowing us to choose forgiveness and peace and radical love.  Here are some of the voices, white and black, that have been teaching and guiding me the past week or so:

"I notice that most people that tell me racism is not an issue are not the people that would necessarily be discriminated against. I notice that those that say 'work hard and everybody has the same benefits', are the people that didn't start with societal and cultural and historical prejudice stacked up against them."

-Tara Livesay-Porter

"Privileged people of the cross seek out, stand with, and stick their necks out for people who have problems that are nothing like their own. Privileged people of the cross resist the magnetic draw of our culturally-polarized society. Privileged people of the cross jump every societal hurdle in order to understand the perspective of, stand with and advocate for the other. Just like Jesus did for us."

-Christena Cleveland

"As Black voices tell us, reconciliation comes with a price, a cost, a burden. A cross if you will. This cross, this burden, is one that Whites habitually refuse to pick up. And my argument in this post is that a part of that cost and burden will be sympathy for Black rage and violence. But that's a price that many Whites simply will not pay. Sympathy for Black rage. And if you cannot suffer that--Black rage over the death of Michael Brown--how are we going to be able to make any progress?

Here's what I know after having spent many years as a part of these conversations. White people are more than happy to talk about racial reconciliation until 1) the rage is directed at them or 2) the burden of reconciliation becomes too costly.

In short, we want atonement and reconciliation without a cross--no passion, no assumption of guilt, no willingness to suffer as we carry the burden of our sin."

-Richard Beck

"Because Christ came to suffer with us, and he has no use for people who brightly and loudly exclaim that they indeed are well, that there is no need for radical transformation, no need for someone to save us from the seeds of white supremacy that have been sowed in us from the beginning. So in order to edge nearer to a God who is present in suffering, I had to lay down my mantel of being well. I had to, in the words of a beautiful poet, 'start cleaning my house.'

...What has and is happening in Ferguson (which is a picture of what is happening all throughout our country) is an invitation to us all. The more we declare that we are well, the farther we will drift from Christ. And he is the only one with the words of life. He is the one offering us his own scars, pleading with us to look at our own."

-D.L. Mayfield

"Today, I raise my hands, because perfect love casts out all fear and because Abba Father sees the suffering of his children. I raise my hands to bear witness to my brothers and sisters who were tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets. I raise my hands because my love for them is restless. I can’t do anything tangible with these hands, but raise them high. Lord, we are restless for change and anxious for hope. We are witnesses of injustice. We are the women at the foot of the cross, empower us to stay through the torment so that we can be present to bind up wounds and then—see resurrection."

"In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.” 

-Henri Nouwen

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