I started The Repentance Project last week, on Ash Wednesday. It's a journey through the history of slavery, white supremacy, and the hope of the gospel.
I'm going to share my thoughts on the readings here on a weekly basis.
I really was moved by the idea of repentance. I'm sure the authors chose that concept intentionally - it's easier for me to either get mired in the overwhelm of the state of race relations in our country, or to just ignore it because it's complicated and overwhelming. The idea of repentance is to acknowledge sin and commit to changing it.
I want to see where I need to change my behavior personally, and where I can be involved in changing the collective behavior of any institutions or organizations to address the hundreds of years of personal and systemic racism and oppression.
Two writings stood out to me this week:
Friday February 16th - about people being made in the image of God, and do we treat them as such? Or do we treat them as capitol to be used to build our own empires?
It's not exactly related, but it reminded me of this video I'd seen, it was a social experiment to see how people would treat a little girl if she looked all clean and pretty, and if she was unkempt and dirty. The video itself is powerful - everyone was friendly to her when she had her hair done in a socially acceptable way, and asked for her to be removed when she looked like she hadn't had a bath in a while. What really stood out to me was that they had to stop it because the little girl - Anano - was too overwhelmed by it (the negative treatment when she looked more like she was poor).
It made me think of the mental trauma people receive, based just on how they look (with skin color being one of the most obvious features, followed by clothes that imply socioeconomic status). And how years and generations of that kind of treatment can impact a person, a family, a group of people.
It caused me to observe how I look at people - am I more judgmental of little boys who are being rowdy if they happen to be black? (watching my thought process at the playground, the answer has historically included a "yes" in it). What trauma am I inflicting on people because of how they look? Because of their skin color?
Instead, what if I see people in the image of God, and treat them with His grace and kindness?
Since seeing that video, I've tried to pause whenever I see a child, and see anyone as Imago Dei. To treat them like my own (who are rowdy, or sensitive, or cranky too!), to laugh at the things they are doing that are funny, to see them as exploring and curious instead of "causing trouble."
The second reading that stood out to me was yesterday's: acknowledging that [some of] the foundation of our country was built on sand. Again - it's how intermingled and complicated it all is that gets to me. It's easier to say "it's complicated and it's not all good or bad" and basically ignore it, instead of really examining the organizations I participate in. I'm from "the north" (and went to college in the southwest) so I think I've always [subconsciously] thought I was exempt from examining my institutions. But I'm taking the assignment seriously, and am researching to see more closely the ways I have benefited from slavery.
And then what do I need to do to help those organizations repent - to help repair the damage they caused? (I'm hoping we get into that as the series progresses, because I'm not sure!)