Blackout Tuesday was one week ago, and I confess, I missed the memo. What I did NOT miss was the Facebook post by a brilliant human being I went to Divinity School with, Jamilah. “Dear friends,” she wrote, “simply posting a black square WITHOUT ACTION will do very little to progress the Black agenda. In addition, please do one or more of the following.” And then she wrote a list of action items.
When I’m overwhelmed by the sheer size and complexity of a systemic problem like racism, there is such grace and blessing in someone who’s able to hack through the paralysis and be like, “HERE. Here’s a list of do-able things. You gotta put one foot in front of the other and just start moving.”
So here, friends. I edited Jamilah’s list and worked it into an article for my church newsletter, but I want to share it here, like this, in case it can be helpful to you. I also added the Bible verses, because my faith is what drives my commitment to social justice, and I want to be really clear that one of my primary points of reference in this national conversation is that I understand Jesus to be a brown-skinned savior who was constantly putting himself on the side of the marginalized and who asphyxiated on a cross, nailed there by the law-keeping Empire.
Here are eight actions toward antiracism:
“And this is the boldness we have in Christ; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14)
As Christians, prayer is our starting point. We pray that God opens our hearts and our minds to uncomfortable truths. We pray that God teaches us compassion for those who disagree with us. We pray that God stirs us to action on behalf of the vulnerable, following in Jesus’ own example–especially, in this moment, toward action on behalf of Black lives.
- PARTICIPATE in a protest.
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Jesus said to the rich young man, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matt 19:21).
There are so many organizations that can use additional funds to meet needs and advance their work. Just a few:
- Black Lives Matter (http://www.blacklivesmatter.com) was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer with the mission is to eradicate white supremacy. (Do you feel uncomfortable with the phrase “Black Lives Matter”? This UU minister offers how he responded to a request to change the sign outside his church to “All Lives Matter.”)
- Equal Justice Initiative (eji.org) was founded by Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, and works to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality.
- Southern Poverty Law Center (http://www.splcenter.org) monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the U.S. and exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media and the public.
- Campaign Zero (http://joincampaignzero.org) is a comprehensive platform of research-based policy solutions to end police brutality in America.
- Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (https://htlcmpls.org/) is near ground-zero for events in Minneapolis, and has become an ad-hoc medic station and donation center in recent days. They are regularly engaged in social justice work, and you can mark your donation “justice” to support their efforts.
- PROVIDE bail.
Jesus read from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives… to set free those who are oppressed…” (Luke 4:18).
- The Massachusetts Bail Fund (https://www.massbailfund.org/) is built to assist low-income individuals who cannot afford bail.
- Concerned about protesters jailed in a specific city? Find a local bail fund here.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8)
Find good and accurate information to inform yourself about the work of anti-racism. This USA Today article has a great roundup of books for adults, kids, and teens. Forbes expands the list into podcasts, websites and blogs, movies and documentaries, YouTube videos, and articles.
- PATRONIZE Black businesses and organizations.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Need to figure out where/who they are? There are apps for that. Visit this article to find them. The Boston Globe also just published a list of Black-owned restaurants in the greater Boston area to support.
- LISTEN to Black voices.
“Let each of you not look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).
As Christians, we might pay particular attention to what black preachers are saying. Two sermons to begin with by renowned preacher Otis Moss III: first, a special message from May 31st. Second, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree: a Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery.”
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).
After we’ve engaged in this work of education and empathy, it’s time to use our privilege to amplify Black voices. Give support and encouragement to those in the struggle. Engage in difficult discussions about racism, taking an active stance against it. Sign petitions. Vote for anti-racist political leaders. Make mistakes. Learn from them. Trust God’s grace. Try again tomorrow.
I’m with you in this work.