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Call for Response to Racial Injustice

A Reflection on Juneteenth

Dear Friends, Today is Juneteenth and I am spending the afternoon in silence and reflection. Thinking about what this all means to me, to us, to our world – actually to God’s world. As I checked my email this morning, I found an email from our Bishop and I would share the follow excerpt with you:
“Today is known in the United States as “Juneteenth.” It is on this day that we remember and celebrate June 19, 1865, when African Americans in Texas learned that they were freed from the bondage of slavery. That day—two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation—Union Major General Gordon Granger informed them of the freedom they had already been granted.

Unfortunately, a simple declaration did not end the racial oppression. The journey from that date in 1865 to today has been long and rocky. Some 155 years later, racism still clings to the very fabric of our communities, and freedom from racism is still a very challenging, demanding, and unfinished agenda.”

As I read those words, I thought about some things that have been coming to me both in conversations I’ve been having with my friends of color in the last few weeks. We have been seeking words, words that in many cases aren’t quite ready to be spoken yet. Words that can offer healing, a way forward, a foundation on which to begin to truly build a new future, not a repeat of the past.   The one thing that keeps coming up is the need for those of us who have voices of privilege, to LISTEN, to truly listen. So often we rush to words and solutions before we have fully heard the voices of our brothers and sisters. So, to begin let us learn the importance of OUR silence so that others might be heard. In conversation with several friends the sentiment expressed was “Live with your discomfort. Before you can act you need to sit in silence, to listen, to reflect, review and then, only then, to stand in solidarity.” 
  So, if you are like me, a person of privilege for whom action comes too quickly, take time to join me today in stopping. Stop and listen, read something about white privilege and racism, it’s history, its sorrowful story. Engage in listening to someone of color, to really listen. Spend time in silence, repenting, reflecting, and then listening to God. The time for action will be made clear if we are aware and ready to hear it when it comes. But that action will be led, not from within our power structures that are so ready to make a plan, to avoid the discomfort and pain that come from other plans that help us to salve our conscious and move on. It’s not time for moving, it’s time for standing: in silence, in reflection, in true solidarity!
–Rev. Dr. Kathy Harvey Nelson, Director, Center for Spiritual Formation, Inc.