Open ears, changed heart

This blog on racism is hard to write. As I mentioned in my previous post, it is a sensitive issue with a lot of hostile discussions happening online right now. There is a lot of weight put on what people say and write. Also because I have never been on the receiving end of ethnic discrimination my posture in recent current events has been to listen and learn. And the more that I am learning the more speechless I become. To know that racism exists is one thing. To hear the stories of the people is another thing. Hearing about the fear that my African American friend has simply because she has a son. Hearing this African Canadian woman’s stories growing up in Toronto. Hearing stories from Dr Alex Gee as he chatted with my pastor on Instagram live. I am not sharing details because I hope you will click on the links and hear for yourself. I can’t do them justice.

I remember the evening of May 25 enjoying the peace and quiet that comes when my daughter goes to bed. (She is a wild one that girl- adorable and wild). I remember settling back into the couch cushions looking for the latest COVID news updates and finding for the first time in months that COVID was no longer the biggest headline. When I read about the death of George Floyd and how it happened and the shock waves and violent aftermath reverberating through cities I felt shock, horror and concern for my friends living in New York. I remember thinking the world has changed overnight for the second time in 2020.

After listening to stories mentioned above though, I realize that the world may have changed overnight for me, but for the Black Community the tragedy of racism is something they have faced day in, day out for centuries. Last week Forest and I watched the movie Just Mercy and I almost started crying right away. Forest is usually the one who cries at movies not me. The events portrayed were just so wrong. And almost seemed stereotyped. The scary thing is that when I researched movie it wasn’t stereotyped, the events portrayed were faithful and accurate. Usually, an accurate movie is good news, in this case I wish it was Hollywood drama. I became aware in such a new way of my unjust privileges.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
‭‭Micah‬ ‭6:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/mic.6.8. NIV

I used to sing this verse around a campfire as a kid and I am just now learning what it means. For me right now, it means that I can no longer be a silent observer.

I want to speak to a question that pops up in my mind and maybe in yours through this focused attention on racism and the Black community in particular. Sometimes I think “what about…?” Fill in the blank with other groups who are treated unjustly. There are many on my heart that I write about. The potential danger of this question when one group is highlighted though is that I go into a diluted “save the world” goal, get overwhelmed and use it as an excuse to do nothing. Instead, I am choosing to move in and listen and glean and be present in this conversation, which will be more effective here and now as well as in other justice issues and people to advocate for.

There is something unprecedented (I know, that word is becoming a cliche) happening right now and I want to grab a hold of that. For the first time in my life I am hearing pastors are talking about racism in their sermons. For the first time I am having an amazing conversation with my husband about what it means for him to be Chinese Canadian and truly embrace his heritage and for me not to see myself just as “white” like a blank piece of paper but English, Scottish, German, Jewish Canadian and to be proud of my heritage as a fellow immigrant in this land.

I have seen the politics and division and polarization and slander that this topic is bringing up. There is a disruption happening and it is uncomfortable.

I challenge you to not let that distract from truly listening to the stories being told, to the pain of injustice that our black brothers and sisters are expressing and living with. Who knows what beautiful change we could be a part of?

One of my favourite passages of scripture is this:

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!””
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭7:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/59/rev.7.9-10.esv

This is what God’s people and God’s nation looks like.

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