Standing up for Racial Justice
Dear United Parish Family,
What a season we have been through and what a week we are in. The news of George Floyd’s lynching at the hands of four police officers, as well as the violence and escalations-of-force with which many protesters were met have left many, if not all, of us stunned, outraged, and horrified.
We learn the names of innocent Black children of God murdered by police: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, and on and on and on. For many of us, however, our outrage lies deeper than the most recent spree of murders and lynchings. For many of us, our outrage is a re-activation of the deep, aching anger at the institutional racism that is our nation’s original sin, manifested in so many ways: longstanding violence against Black people; historical infliction of poverty and blight upon the black community; a system of mass incarceration; and, most recently, much higher rates of deaths and illness for people of color in the current COVID-19 crisis, and on and on.
Lutheran pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer once reflected, “Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now.”
As we grapple with our anger, grief, and trauma, we urge each of us to seek beyond the cathartic experiences of protest, to find ways to foster real, systemic change. Racism is a virus, like COVID-19; and the best way we can take care of our community is to begin by assuming that we are all carriers, even if we seem to be asymptomatic. This will be uncomfortable for many of us, and this is when we draw on the deep well of our tradition, of a God who accompanies us just as closely in moments of soul-searching, of growth, and of despair, as in moments of joy, exaltation, and wonder. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16, NASV). We need to tend to our grief, soothe our souls with the balm of Gilead, and then get to work. We encourage our community members to consider participating in some or all of the opportunities, below, to be involved and contribute to the collective fight for racial justice. No single one of us can turn the tide, but working together, we can help God move mountains.
Rev. Kent French, Senior Pastor
Rev. Amy Norton, Associate Pastor
This summer we commit ourselves to soul work and community action
Examining the ways that we need to transform ourselves individually, at a soul level, and collectively at a community level.
Soul work Taking responsibility for our own spiritual work.
- Learn more about racism and join in coalition with others. Take responsibility to understand better how systemic racism works, how we contribute to it and how to combat it in ourselves and the world around us. Check out this google doc with many different books, articles, and podcasts for you to learn more.
- Commit to listening to or reading at least one black or indigenous voice each day. Here are some ideas.
- Join a “Me and White Supremacy” Group. Follow Layla Saad’s 28-day workbook with daily exercises and reflections for becoming an anti-racist.
- Individual Reparations Accountability Group – Support for those participating in a range of local and individual reparations pledges and efforts.
- Develop a practice of saying and praying their names, George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. The list goes on and on and on. Babynames.com has published a list of names here. Learn the stories of their lives, not just their deaths. Say their names.
Community Action Joining in coalition-building with others.
- Read the statement from the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). You can join us in participating in GBIO actions addressing systemic racism, both city and statewide.
- Donate to the Black Visions Collective, the Boston Bail Fund for Black Lives, or other organizations that support racial justice work. Click here for a list of organizations.
- Connect with Anguish and Action
- Subscribe to Breakthrough Brookline, a weekly update on ways to fight racism and build a more equitable town, which provides a list of protests, speakers, book groups, donation opportunities, and more. To subscribe, click here.
- Join safely in local marches to end racism and acknowledge that Black lives do matter.