I wake up this Sunday, and nearly every Sunday with a sigh. I lay in bed as I contemplate, how many more sermons I can sit through when the social ills of the day are not mentioned. How many more times must I enter Evangelical spaces that seemingly care about discipleship but don’t disciple much in social justice? I wonder if maybe this will be the day that the sermon is different. That the speaker will have allowed the Lord to have their conscience pricked? It does happen sometimes. Sometimes.
Today I contemplate, what if I wear my Black Lives Matter shirt? My imago dei shirt, affirming Black people are made in God’s image. Will it prevent people from coming to me for prayer? Will it lead to more honest prayer? What if I wear it every Sunday? I’m tired of needing to carry the fight to church as well as every space I inhabit.
I’m reminded though of a podcast I listened to, just a few days ago. It was all things beautiful! It began with poetry, it continued with discussion, it was historic, current, salient, informed! I highly recommend episode #142 – American? The podcast is called The Black One. I’m struck by two threads that emerged, both an exploration around what makes oppression possible, particularly when the oppressors are outnumbered, and fundamentally the nature of bullies(oppressors). The most revelatory: oppression triumphs when you convince people that oppression is preferable to death. This hit me like a ton of bricks! This was the fundamental thing I struggled with in high school after successfully advocating for our class to read Beloved. I highly recommend everyone read this book, but spoiler alert, the book deals with the aftermath of a family in which the mom attempted to kill her children rather than have them re-captured and returned to slavery. All. of. highschool. I wrestled with how to view her, how to understand her, and whether I would do the same. Honestly as I read the history books, I wish more people had thought death preferable to oppression. Sure, rebellion means death but surely that is better than slavery, better than slavery for your whole family? Slavery indeed endured because there were many who were convinced that this wasn’t true. What role did Christianity play in that? (I’ll just leave that question here).
The other thread from this podcast episode is how to deal with bullies. The insight: a bully is actually a coward, and the thing they least want, is to fight. So…you need to fight them every time. They should know, if you step out of line, we are going to fight and make sure in your first fight they know what to expect. Eventually their fear of fighting and needing to fight every time will lead to your victory. There were many more gems, the exploration of the Boston Tea Party and responses to police brutality. The vast difference in perception when black people protest. Exploring why children of civil rights activists often didn’t follow in their parent’s footsteps. How having a Black relative, does not automatically mean you understand Black culture, or know much about Black people…Like I said, phenomenal episode.
I thought this morning. I’m tired...
but this is a fight I need to wage,
and wage every time until something changes.
I do think death is preferable than oppression.
And I am not afraid to die.
and honestly, when I think of what could come … he who will come … I don’t feel no ways tired,
no more mudpies.