This Sunday marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. These kinds of observances can feel trite, given how far we still have to go toward total inclusion in our city and in our church. But it makes sense that we have this day in the middle of Lent, a time when we're called to admit our shortfalls and seek to be more like Jesus.
Jesus himself experienced racism and never knew racial privilege. He was denied access to education, employment, voting rights, and some freedom of movement because of his ethnic identity.
It is really difficult to understand the injustices experienced by others. If your experience has not been one of racial exclusion, judgement, or harassment, it can be hard to see where those things are happening in our communities. It is my experience that the only way to begin seeing through the eyes of others is by listening to their stories with a great deal of humility. Now is not the time to speak; we are called to listen to the experiences of our siblings just as we stop and listen during Lent.
I encourage you to pick one new way of listening this week to mark anti-racism day. You might start reading a book by a Black or Indigenous author, or any writer who comes from an ethnic background different from your own. If you have not read the UN's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that is a great place to start. Or watch Amanda Gorban's poem at Joe Biden's recent inauguration. Listen to music from another culture on CBC. Or read From Chains to Freedom, stories from the Canadian Council of Churches about racism experienced by Black people in Canada. You could also learn about the Indigenous Anglican Church of Canada's move toward self-determination.
We seek racial justice because our faith teaches that the image of God is reflected in the face of every human being. We also know that Jesus placed a particular emphasis on caring for those who are mistreated. Jesus not only sits with them in their suffering, but raises them victorious over their enemies just as Jesus himself rose from the dead.
Please share your listening experiences on our Facebook group if you can!