A Boston paper recently published an article about a “Black Lives Matter” banner vandalized outside a church in Arlington, MA. In fact, the banner had been vandalized twice before. After reading this article, I wrote to a white clergy colleague and ally: “While I ardently support those houses of worship that put up “Black Lives Matter” banners, I feel that the real transformation occurs when the deep work is done inside of communities. Whether the community is our home, house of worship, place of employment. Essentially, from cradle to grave.”
As an African-American Episcopal priest, I have some questions. Are we (using the corporate we) willing to change the racial paradigm and structure of the Episcopal Church? We delude ourselves if we believe that all should be at the same place at the same time in our journey toward racial justice and in realizing the Reign of God here on earth.
It’s a process and we come into this process as unique God-created gifts on earth. The process is both internal and external. Internal change comes at a cost; an action, a thought or gesture can get to that place where you are no longer comfortable with what you say, think or do. Note that this process does not happen overnight.
Life in the Boston area can present phrases and questions that are sometimes baffling and have double meaning to a community of color. Questions such as: Do you live around here? What does your spouse, partner etc. do? Phrases such as: The organization decided to go in a different direction at this time. Statements such as: I am sorry, I forgot to introduce you (the only person of color in the room). Examples such as someone addressing everyone in the room by their title except you. Circumvention of the work of the Human Resources Department to make a hire. Or the latest in The Episcopal Church by white clergy, “I want to take a point of personal privilege.” You are a priest in The Episcopal Church; thereby you are privileged.
Social justice work is hard work for all.
In this season of Advent, to quote a prayer from the Brothers at The Society of St. John the Evangelist, “Now is the time to wake out of our sleep. Now is the time for you—a choice to be made, a decision to be taken.”
Advent Blessings to All.