When you look at my picture, what do you see?
Is it a Black man?
When you look at our picture as a couple, what do you see?
Is it an interracial couple?
When you look at someone with a disability, what do you see?
Is it his/her disability?
(Photo thanks to Maria Oswalt on Unsplash.com)
Is there anything beyond what you see? Does what you see define me/my couple/someone with a disability?
We all have unconscious biases that we learn or develop based on our life experience. If we do not address them, they affect everything we do in our lives. They make us more prone to believe in stereotypes and live with the fear of the unknown.
The Pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have exposed a cracked foundation on which our society is built (human rights abuses and injustices in our society and across the World). Should we continue to build on this foundation, adding wrongs here and there? If we don’t fix the cracks, the whole house will collapse.
The things you have seen and read, what do they mean to you? What do you make of them? What is shifting in you? How is it changing how you are going to behave going forward?
You may be thinking that this matter does not relate to you. But, unfortunately, we all contribute to the injustice in one way or another. So, we all have a part to play to address these issues.
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”James 4:17
You may also be thinking this is something that has happened, it is now a theme of the past and we need to move on. Not quite yet, it will be a failure if we think this is true. We need to take advantage of these events, seize the momentum and move to a deep reflection/introspection and from introspection into concrete actions that will bring the change that we all hope for. I know that these conversations are uncomfortable, but we need to keep working on these issues until change comes.
We can start by looking at ourselves, at the structure of our society and ask ourselves what does it tell us. Let us look at the injustice and ask ourselves where we find ourselves in all of this. This will help us find what has been our attitude towards everything that happens.
After the introspection, we need to create opportunities for conversations where we can bridge the knowledge gap. There are people who just don’t have the knowledge of how it is to be discriminated against, they need to get information and knowledge so that they can learn and understand what other people have gone through/are going through. They need to put themselves in a circle where people can help them know the unknown and tell them when something is wrong, so that they can fix it. We need to be courageous to unbuild, start all over and fix the cracks in the foundation. We need communication, cooperation and collaboration so that we can reach out and help/support each other.
As we begin this church community, this is who and what we are trying to be. We are intentionally going slow. We want to make time to start with genuine friendship as people with different backgrounds and experiences. We want to make space to listen and be heard, to hope to grow as a community who learn from past mistakes and truly become people of equality, honour, and love. And we want to do this with Jesus right at the heart.
Written by Rev Urbain Yombe