Today we celebrate the life, wisdom, and witness of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s a holiday for us at JustFaith Ministries, like it is for many of you. However, this year, MLK Day has certainly taken on a whole new meaning and relevance for our JustFaith Ministries staff and board, and for me personally.
Over a year ago, our board and staff made a commitment to more fully embrace anti-racism and anti-white supremacy values. We have spent the last eighteen months steeped in an anti-racism/anti-white supremacy organizational change process. What this means practically is: We are actively addressing racial equity and white supremacy norms and characteristics within our own organization, so we can more authentically develop programming that will guide others in anti-racism/anti-white supremacy advocacy and action.
What this means for me personally is: I have been transformed by the process.
The other day I found myself thinking: I am a long way from being that shy girl who lived in a predominantly white rural area, whose father and grandfather were overtly racist. More than that, I’m even farther away from being a person who simply ignores all of it for fear of not being accepted, being confronted, or being made to feel uncomfortable.
The distance from both of these early realities of mine feels like the distance between Paul before his conversion on the Road to Damascus and Paul after being knocked down by the voice of God. It feels like the distance between St. Francis of Assisi before he became a prisoner of war and encountered a leper to the St. Francis after these life events, who advocated for what Dr. King called the Beloved Community—a community that is built on equity, peace, and justice for all (no exceptions!), because we are all created in the image and likeness of God.
I’m learning (every day!) to recognize false narratives about, and false representation of, my Black, Brown and Indigenous brothers and sisters. I’m learning (every day!) to recognize when decisions that are being made are guided by White cultural norms. I’m learning (every day!) how systems and structures have been put in place that leave a disproportionate number of my Black, Brown, and Indigenous friends impoverished, marginalized, disadvantaged, or incarcerated. Most importantly, I’m learning (every day!) how much richer and beautiful my life is the more diverse my personal relationships become.
As we honor the life, theological brilliance, and witness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I invite and encourage you to join me in celebration of Dr. King’s impact in the U.S. and beyond. Even more important, however, I invite you to join me in making a commitment to set aside any preconceived notions you might have about racial injustice in the U.S. and around the globe, and do a deep dive into our history as it relates to racial justice, and how that history has shaped everything we do today. Please join me in honoring the legacy and witness of Dr. King by working alongside me to “do what is ours to do” (St. Francis of Assis) to address racial injustice (every day!).