On this 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to protect LGBTQ employees in the workplace, I want to wish you all a Happy Pride. I have been moved by the LGBTQ community which has stood up for our black and brown siblings in support of the Black Lives Matter protests. It is refreshing to see leaders in the LGBTQ community starting to understand that Black civil rights and LGBTQ rights do exhibit intersectionality and unless all of us are free, none of us are.
My earliest memory learning of racism was in Mrs. Roberta Batchelor’s fifth grade class back in 1990. She is still my favorite teacher to this day because she was not afraid to expose our young minds to the horrors of racism. The truths that she exposed us to during Black History Month such as watching Roots, as well as learning about some amazing Black individuals helped prepare us for identifying racism and for standing in solidarity for those who are experiencing it. I still remember George Washington Carver being my favorite Black history hero for all the work he did in agriculture and for being the first African American to receive a bachelor’s degree in science.
Fast forward thirty years and my emotions have been all over the place recently. While trying to balance the worry about a pandemic and the health of family and friends, we continue to witness the systematic killing of people of color in our communities at the hands of law enforcement. I ran in solidarity for Ahmaud Arbery and not once in my white privilege did I worry whether I looked suspicious, only whether I had enough breath to finish that 2.23 mile run. And I saw first-hand white privilege when I gathered to protest with a primarily white group of individuals for George Floyd and only two cops were present. And as more Black and brown folks showed up to the peaceful protest, so did the cops.
What has pained me a lot in all of this as a White cisgender male, has been the response by some individuals to these horrific killings. To point out a fault in the victim as some justification for the use of force that took their life is not ok. Maybe if they had a Mrs. Batchelor in their life at a young age it would have helped show them that these victims are made in the image and likeness of God. I will never understand what it’s like to be a Black man in America. A man whose ancestors have weathered every single storm of racism from slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarcerations to the war on drugs to the militarization of the police and mandatory minimums. But I know this, I love you my Black and brown friends and family and I am terribly sorry that some who look like me do not see you like I do. I see you, I hear you and I will not stop fighting for you. And I will not stop praying for the conversion of their hearts.
And with this my fellow Christians, I also invite you to join me and raise your voices in prayer for the conversion of their hearts. Pray for an end to racism and that every institution that still peddles it, stops it. To get more involved join the Social Justice team at St. Peter’s, or attend one of our events to learn more on ways to act. You can begin by joining us tomorrow, July 1, in celebration of the amazing life of a Black civil rights and LGBTQ icon, the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray at 7:00 p.m. She was a brilliant mind and writer that was way ahead of her time in the feminist movement as the first Black woman to attend Howard University, first Black female Episcopal priest, as well as someone who wrote early on about her struggles with sexuality. To view the celebration you can visit our diocese Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EpiscopalDioceseNC
“We are spendthrifts with words, We squander them, Toss them like pennies in the air—Arrogant words, Angry words, Cruel words, Comradely words, Shy words tiptoeing from mouth to ear. But the slowly wrought words of love and the thunderous words of heartbreak–Those we hoard.” – The Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray, from “Words”
Jason Gingras, Social Justice Ministry Chair