Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter: A Statement of Anti-Racism
Rev. Michelle L. Wahila
“Black Lives Matter.” We say this because we believe Black lives are beloved. Saying anything less than this is neither loving nor faithful and is complicit in racism.
Ruffled by Grace is built on love – a deep love for others that is born out of recognizing the divine spark within every human being. With this conviction as the foundation of our ministry and mission, we cannot say, “All Lives Matter” until we are able to say, “Black Lives Matter.”
It is, therefore, our collective responsibility to lament our own racism and the white privilege that shapes life and faith. I sit in deep grief for a system that has been built upon the backs of my BIPOC (Black/Brown/Indigenous/People of Color) siblings. As a representative of the Christian faith and as a white pastor, who is a part of the institutional church, I acknowledge my own role in this system.
Rejecting racism is not the same as being anti-racist. It is not enough to say, “Racism is wrong.” One must continually seek to uncover biases, to engage in difficult dialogue, to stand in protest, and to grow in knowledge. This is best practiced in community without placing the labor of my own growth onto BIPOC. I acknowledge that this is a life-long process, one in which I have and will continue to make mistakes.
Even as I lament, I will not let my white guilt lull me into silence. The process of decolonizing faith is one that is uncomfortable.[I] I recognize the time and space I have for “decolonizing” is a privilege, and that while I hold this space, Black lives are being lost. I will continue to say the names of those who have died at the hands of an unjust system.[II]
Elevating #BlackLivesMatter as an integral part of my mission in the kin-dom, “where we celebrate our connections to, and responsibilities toward, one another,” means that I continue to commit to the following principles:
- I will accept correction with grace for my own overt or covert racism.
- I commit to continued study and learning from BIPOC voices; I will listen.
- I will lift up the voices of BIPOC.
- I will seek out more Black creatives and pay them for their art and labor. I will support Black-owned businesses.
- I recognize that tokenism does not qualify either as dismantling racism or as diversity. This means that in my own work, I will continue to elevate and seek diversity without tokenizing models, couples, or other creatives.
- I will hold persons accountable for racism in the wedding industry, among creatives, and in my personal life.
- Lifting my own voice with all the saints, I will continue to make myself aware of the Action Alerts of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and participate in the suggested actions of protest and petition.[III]
I will remember that impact is greater than intent. This means that there will be times when I will fail at the tasks of anti-racism. As a Minister of Word and Sacrament, I concur with the stance of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and take up the work of affirming the dignity and value of humanity.[IV] My theological convictions must move me to action when the divine light of another is being attacked.
Love remains stronger than hate. Love acting in the face of hatred is the work of Christ in the world. This is a time to love boldly.[V]
[I] The institutional church was built on empire and therefore its history is a one of colonization. When we seek to decolonize faith, we think about the church’s history and the way it was complicit in racism. A good starting point in thinking through the history of the American church empire is Jemar Tisby’s, The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism.
[II] Since the 13 March 2020, we must add the names of Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, George Floyd, and Tony McDade to this list. Follow #SayTheirNames on Social Media. Become more aware of the people who are losing their lives.
[III] 4 June 2020 Action Alert: https://www.votervoice.net/PCUSA/Campaigns/74787/Respond
[V] An excellent list of resources for loving boldly can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1PrAq4iBNb4nVIcTsLcNlW8zjaQXBLkWayL8EaPlh0bc/mobilebasic?fbclid=IwAR1C3X-RZIy-wA7wqoQ0hhs3eRtA0T1y5hUBnteYz1fPw7b5v4PS0Bqi2Tw
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