Responding in Solidarity
Update [June 1, 2020]:
Dear Friends- On Saturday, I wrote you [original letter below] with my heart moved to consider what Solidarity might look like in this present moment. In my message to you, I included this line: “…this country has never been and will never be for or safe for Black Americans.” However, as several of you have rightfully named in your responses, this is was neither helpful nor hopeful and caused harm for which I must apologize for making. While I do believe that the safety of Black Americans will always be threatened in this country, wherever and whenever the power and principality of white supremacy reigns/ remains, the remembrance of Pentecost on Sunday is a resounding reminder that even in the midst of oppressive empire, a new community may be formed; one infused by the power of the Holy Spirit, marked by radical hospitality and mutual love. In recapitulating Pentecost, may we carry on filled with hope, living out the Beloved community in our world, and doing what is necessary to becoming a people in whom anti-blackness has no place or power.
[May 30, 2020]
Beloved Leaders of the Church-
Today, Black communities around our country are bearing an enormous weight of trauma, grief and anger. Multiple modern day lynchings , hate crimes and racial violence in the past weeks (Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Christian Cooper ) continue to reinforce the reality that this country has never been and will never be for or safe for Black Americans. To worry about the endangerment of your life for every walk or police encounter is unconscionable, and to live in a society in which all legislative, judicial, economic, and social realities are opposed to your existence is unforgivable. Living through a pandemic only amplifies these realities while continuing to increase the wealth of those profiting from disaster capitalism and white supremacy.
If you are among those embodying pain and trauma, Ministerium Vice-President, Pastor and Licensed Therapist Rev. Dieula Previlon has developed a webinar resource for People of Color which you may view at the following link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ktT2WsH1aNg&feature=youtu.be Additional resources are accessible at: https://www.facebook.com/beabridgebuilder/ If you are in critical need of help or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the Ministerium Executive Board directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . Rev. Dieula and her colleague Tricia Gordon will also be leading a racial Trauma Healing Group for Black Women starting soon. If you are a Black woman in the ministerium and would like to reserve a spot, please contact Rev. Dieula at Dieulaprevilon@gmail.com
For whites and non- Black and indigenous POC, this moment , like all moments before it, ought to provoke us to ask some important and uncomfortable questions. Do we truly live out the Gospel in its unapologetic call to anti-racism and combating Anti Blackness? Is this reflected in what we regularly preach and pray in our pulpits ? Do we consistently make daily choices out to advance and protect black futures , put ourselves under the authority of black leaders, activists, and mentors, and develop partnerships which promote black life and empowerment? The inconvenient truth is that no measure of signing statements, saying sorry, or offering condolences will be enough to develop the deep well of discipleship necessary to be accomplices in the work of racial justice. What is needed is to join together is not only expressed, but actionable solidarity, with the long view in mind! This solidarity beckons us to grow in awareness of our own complicity, regularly audit our own lives, and to do our own work to procure resources to strength our anti-racist commitments. With this in mind, we wanted to encourage you with some helpful articles and resources containing tangible and practical concrete suggestions related to developing a stronger actionable solidarity:
Dr. Veronica Gilliard: “Ive had enough of # Solidarity- https://www.redletterchristians.org/ive-had-enough-of-solidarity/
Courtney Ariel, “For our White Friends Desiring to be Allies”: https://sojo.net/articles/our-white-friends-desiring-be-allies?fbclid=IwAR1WdBXCqOA5MZOPhzpRZJUVWs4ea46knDgvchPQ2_ejjgEbb01tJgjv_AA
75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice: https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234
10 Common Things Well-Intentioned Allies Do that Are actually Counterproductive: https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/10/counterproductive-allyship/?fbclid=IwAR2SywGyiSYnTgTsQ1lxcLVoovybqMhwT19H_ssWmr00Cdnvk14_0oAIkek
Asian Americans: 10 Warning Signs you are siding with Whiteness: https://everydayfeminism.com/2017/09/asians-siding-with-whiteness/?utm_content=buffer9b361&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer&fbclid=IwAR2pP0JmV2S6NFOw8ztR5VRWTfAh-0csgPoceEnJtpRo3Y6yeFPC-p59gHI
20+ Allyship Actions for Asians to Show up for the Black Community : https://medium.com/awaken-blog/20-allyship-actions-for-asians-to-show-up-for-the-black-community-right-now-464e5689cf3e
12 ways to be an Ally to Black People, Janee Woods: https://www.theroot.com/12-ways-to-be-a-white-ally-to-black-people-1790876784
Rediscipling the White Church: From Cheap Diversity to True Reconciliation, David Swanson
Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age, Mae Cannon
White Awake: An Honest Look at What it Means to Be White, Daniel Hill
How to be an antiracist, Ibram X Kendi
So you want to talk about Race: Ijeoma Oluo
White Fragility: Why it is so hard for White People to Talk about racism, Robin DeAngelo
Taking the time to intentionally read through this literature, may give you some initial ideas to put into practice in your own life and for those you serve. Consider journeying through these with a friend or colleague who can keep you accountable towards implementing some of these measures. More resources will be available this summer at our Annual Ministerium Virtual gathering. Please Save the Date: 7/17/2020. Our online Ministerium Summer Gathering will begin with ongoing education for all clergy from 10am - 12:30 pm (CST). The already chosen topic is Anti Racism Discipleship, being taught by Dr.Christina Edmonson, courtesy of the anti racism working group and LMDJ. God knew our Body would need this space to grow and move forward into the next phase after passing the 2019 Antiracism Resolution. Please plan to join us for this timely educational event. (The rest of our gathering will be that afternoon, 1:30-4:30.)
If you are a White woman, you are also invited to join Anti Racist Learning Groups, online facilitated spaces to address specific race/gender realities as leaders. To join a group and practice learning, lamenting, listening, and advocating with other women as an act of discipleship, please email email@example.com (watch for future groups forming for other demographics later this summer)
As we preach and pray from our pulpits and places of call, let us continue to rally against fear and division. In quoting Ministerium President Liz Verhage: Let us pray, that “God would be Emmanuel to all who are lamenting and are experiencing deep grief. Pray, that racism and death would be uprooted, in the name of Jesus, and that the systems and powers and principalities that protect white supremacy and violence would fall…. Pray for protection particularly for the Black community and the many layers of trauma they are carrying even as they minister to others, for mental/ physical/ emotional/ spiritual health and for the Holy Spirit to cover them. Pray for those in MN for protection of families and neighborhoods at night and for justice to prevail- including for those who are blamed or held responsible for violence.” Pray also for the safety of protesters around our nation as they take a stand against gross injustice.
Friends, there is no standing still in our time. We are either moving forward and building towards God’s Kingdom righteousness or the very substance of our faith and call is atrophying away. Thank God that God calls us to resist sin and pursue liberation for all! May you be encouraged and sustained in this continued and necessary Gospel work!
-Mark Tao, on behalf of the Executive Board of the Covenant Ministerium (President Liz Verhage, VP Dieula Previlon, Sec. Beth Ernest, Tres. Eric Hedberg)