A Lenten Journey of Cultural Awareness
April 3, 2019
While Lent is a time for self-reflection and personal examination, it is also a time to think about the larger world around us. Below, Rev. Holly Bandel talks about how she’s spent this season diving into the challenging issues of race, culture and justice.
Over the past few months, it has been a journey to dive into the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. This book, written for a white audience, talks about the reality of racial inequity in our nation from a sociological point of view. So often, we think of racial inequity as personal or individual prejudice and discrimination. Yet, DiAngelo explains how personal prejudice is often a manifestation of this country’s history of racial inequity. Racial inequity continues, in both overt and covert ways, because our national and communal systems are built upon it. So many white people think of themselves as “not racist” and yet even if we try really hard, racial prejudice and discrimination persist and we participate in it –because of its embedded, systemic nature. As people in the United States, we are continually being socialized in these discriminatory waters and it takes transformed awareness to make lasting change.
As a Lent practice, I have been meditating on this reality of entrenched racism that affects all of us. This time of prayer and deeper awareness has led me to continued teaching and study of racial awareness. Yet it has also powerfully moved me to intentional action in two ways:
Through advocacy. I have been vocal with our city council, asking them to vote to elevate the Police Oversight Board, which is an entity that, given the correct power and authority, can serve as a best practice for community race relations (learn more here).
Through constant prayer. Women of color are harmed in this city and around the world daily. I have been carrying the names of women of color who have been harmed with me for prayer and remembrance. My list most recently included L’Daijohnique Lee, who was a victim in an assault in Deep Ellum March 21 (learn more here).
As Luke 6 reminds us, let us be not only hearers of the words of Christ who loved all, but let us be doers of inclusivity and justice. Jesus’ actions led the way as he encountered people different than he was and offered grace and transformation. Since we are a mostly Caucasian congregation, it is imperative that we have an understanding of how race works systematically as we navigate interracial relationships, ministry and advocacy. This is not just so we can be better citizens and advocates, but so we can serve as full and authentic representations of Jesus’ love and mercy in the world.
In this Lenten season, as we all spend time in self-reflection, my hope and prayer is that we can grow together in racial and cultural awareness. I invite you into this journey so we can act together for more inclusivity and justice with all of our neighbors.
For more resources for your journey, I invite you to check out these online resources:
“The Danger of a Single Story”by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“Why ‘I’m not racist’ is only half the story” by Robin DiAngelo
“Deconstructing White Privilege” by Robin DiAngelo