A reflection from DurhamCares Pilgrimage Director, Tammy Rodman
Wheeew…how are you all doing out there? I don’t know about you but this season has been a roller coaster ride for me. Watching the ticker in amazement as 100,000 or more people have died in this country from COVID-19. As I continue to see Black and Brown bodies being more susceptible to this virus because of racist systemic disparities my anger increases. My heart is bursting as I watched the life of two more black men being snuffed out because of the color of their skin…the color of my skin. How do I find my “Hope in the Holler” as another Black woman has been killed because of questionable police department mistakes? How do I deal with yet another white woman who deliberately tries to get a Black man arrested or possibly killed because of a simple request which apparently pressed her white privilege? My Asian-American friends are struggling with the rise of racist attacks. And is anyone helping the Navajo nation? In the words of the book by Martin Luther King Jr., “Where Do We Go From Here?” I reflect on the question because right now I feel like we are pretty close to the bottom.
As protests continue to rise across the country I know that I am not alone in my grief and in my anger. So how do we get through this grief? How do we turn this anger into action that will bring about change? For those of us who are believers what does waiting and trusting God look like? How do we…the marginalized keep our sanity and stay in peace?
I don’t know all the answers to these questions, I can only tell you how I am coping so far. 1. It is because of God -loving, trusted friends, who are good listeners allowing me to share as I feel comfortable. 2.Stepping away from social media to sit in silence and assure my space is free of any negativity. 3. Spending time with my children and grandchildren, talking about what is going on, hugging them and never ending a call or conversation without telling them “I love you”. 4. Calling on the wisdom of my elders.
5. Most importantly seeking the voice and direction of God in prayer.
I hear the voice of my ancestors reminding me we have come through many atrocities and survived, we will continue. I hear the word of God reminding me to be strong and courageous knowing that God is with me. I hear the Spirit saying do not let hatred infiltrate your heart becoming the very thing you fight against. I hear MLK singing WE SHALL OVERCOME. I hear Malcom speak “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.” and I hear the words of Sam Cooke “It’s been a long, long time coming but I know that change is gonna come”. So I leave you with questions…what are you hearing, how are you coping and how are you going to be part of the solution and not the problem?
Below you will find some tips on how to better love your neighbor. (I’m not sure of the author but I adapted the post for this document) For everyone, If you have not been to REI training please signup. Additional information can be found through Organizing Against Racism.
Be blessed and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR no matter what their skin color.
Some tips for my white (and white-adjacent) friends:
Avoid telling black folks how to feel or how to protest. Defer to them morally, even if it goes against your intuition. If history is any indicator, your intuition is probably wrong on this.
Be careful about attributing protests to “outside agitators” because it can imply that local protesters don’t have a right to be angry, while at the same time undercutting the possibility of solidarity. (The police are statistically more likely to be from out of town than the protesters; the police have also been most consistent in escalating violence.)
Avoid asking black, latinx, or indigenous folks to educate you about their experience or to respond to your concerns causing them additional stress or trauma.
Dr. Tomi Oredein reminds us, that education is only one step. Beyond it follow presence, risk, and persistence towards political and social change. Remember that some things can seem impossible until they’re not.
As Dr. Ibram Kendi has said, we cannot become “not racist;” we can only strive each day to be antiracist. This is a lifelong struggle for us against, if you will, original sin: the heritage we did not choose but with which we must contend. But we can face it together so that the future doesn’t have to look like the past.
Ibram Kendi’s antiracist reading list: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/
05/29/books/review/antiracist- reading-list-ibram-x-kendi. html