Injustice to One Person Affects Us All
by Judy Kitt, President FMBR
The anguish and grief of these last weeks has been almost overwhelming as our society is being forced to reckon with its centuries-long oppression and dehumanization of people of color. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of those who are sworn to protect and serve our communities has inflamed outrage, and rightly so. That outrage is compounded by the fact that these three victims are only the latest of thousands of people of color that have been killed over the course of our nation's history.
The worldwide demonstrations of support for equality and just treatment for all people, is a sign that there is a raising of the level of consciousness in the population. The pandemic has sensitized all of us to the fact that we are in this together — we are one people: injustice to one person affects us all.
Last year, my daughter and I did our own civil rights tour of the deep south. One of our stops was the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Located on a peaceful hilltop, the memorial honors the over 4000 victims of lynching and other deadly assault by white mobs between the years of 1877 and 1950. Known as the national lynching memorial, it is "a sacred space for truth-telling and reflection about racial terror in America and its legacy". Part of the memorial's power is exactly that felt sense of sacredness. When you enter, you truly feel that you are on holy ground, ground that has been sanctified by the willingness to tell the truth, to hear it and, in this case, to see it represented in the stunning creativity and stark imagery of the memorial.
I'm reminded of that experience now, as we are collectively being asked to see the truth, to acknowledge it and to reflect upon what that truth says about us, about our history and about the systems, in place for centuries, that oppress large portions of our population. It can be difficult to face these things, but it must all come to light if we are to move forward.
In my shamanic training, I was taught that we cannot shift or heal a situation until we witness it in its entirety. As much as we might like to move on quickly and see how to "fix" things, true power lies in resisting the urge to turn away, dismiss or downplay the horror that has been wrought in our name. Lately, a poem by Hafiz has been on my mind. In part, it states
"Don't surrender your loneliness too quickly. Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you, as few human or divine ingredients can."
At this time, we are being called, individually and collectively, to let the pain cut more deep. Let us not turn away from the anguish that our brothers and sisters of color have been subjected to. Let us have the courage and the humility to stand in this sacred space, to hear their voices and see the truth so that we can, as a nation, feel deep remorse and seek forgiveness. Then, as we work toward genuine reconciliation, we can more completely dismantle the systems built on racial inequality, and the build systems that allow everyone to thrive.
For information on how to be an ally, this article by Christina Marie Noel (4 Steps That I and Other White People Can Take to Fight Racism) is a good place to start.
Blessings to all.