Message at Durham Friends Meeting, September 20, 2020
Friends please join me in exploring an emotional and important subject. As we seek understanding, we want to work from emotions other than fear, anger and defensiveness. I say this because of my own experience, upon initially hearing of reparations I was overwhelmed, even angry! How can I possibly restore, repair or repay for wrongs committed deep in the past.If reparation is cash payment from individuals, then I must tell you that all in my possession is nowhere near enough. Besides, how does it help the injured if I am penniless?
So, there is my defensiveness!
Another fundamental concern for me is this; I am set against the injustice and oppression occurring RIGHT NOW!As this has intensified lately, my feelings of; frustration, fear and anger at my own lack of effectiveness loom.
NEVER THE LESS, there is work to be done!
One way forward in the reconciliation process starts with getting HISTORY more accurate. It is essential to start this process. As Eden Grace shared last week; It is part of the work that white people have to do, and can be done on the personal level. Active remembering and telling ALL the story, including how the engineering for longterm inequality occurred. This is how we become ANTIRACISTS and find our way to APOLOGY. Apology frees our hearts, bringing-up courage and creativity.
Since our US history includes severe inequality, perpetrated to keep black, indigenous and brown people impoverished and powerless, AMENDS must include deep policy change. At the tip of this iceberg we can see economic and racial injustice in; healthcare, ecology, agriculture, housing, finance, government, education and all access to resources. These aspects of life are still deeply permeated and injustice will only give way through courageous action. This action attended by longterm commitment to work together; white, black, brown and indigenous, is needed.
To repair our relationships, white people must PERSIST, despite the inevitable resistance of the upper 10%, the top 1%. The AMENDS and REPARATION that will bring RECONCILIATION will have to take into account;
1) The labor RIP-OFF of enslaved African Americans and the further engineering to prevent wealth, choice and security for people of color .
2) The land RIP-OFF and violent cultural erasure visited on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
One way to move forward with REPARATION is to explore what would be best to do first, what would be effective and fitting to do at the Federal government level. That is the purpose of HR40, a bill in the US House of Representatives. It is “stuck” and needs people power to “unstick” it.
Another essential motion must take root in our hearts and minds. We must quiet our defensiveness and have the HUMILITY to seek spiritual guidance. We must dredge up the energy and courage to commit to this work longterm.
This is what is ahead of us if we want to reach real RECONCILIATION, peace and the joy known when justice prevails.