I had the chance to serve as the worship leader at Friends Committee on National Legislation’s Annual Meeting last month, which means that in addition to a couple other responsibilities, I offered a prepared message in worship on Sunday morning. The title was: “Friends, Racial Justice, and Policing: A Biblical Economy of Care.”
Here is what I aimed to talk about:
I’m going to tell you about a few of my experiences at Portland’s racial justice protests in these last several months, and I do so not so you’ll be impressed by me (although it’s a mark of my privilege as a white person that you might be), but because I think it is incredibly important for white people to tell these stories and do the emotional labor of trying to communicate about police brutality, its links to racism, and the bigger links to economic access and natural resources. I’ll tell you some stories and connect this with the economy of care we see depicted in the Bible, and then share a few of the high points of my learning about my own internalized white supremacy and settler colonialism as I’ve noticed my own reactions these last several months. While this is in many ways a conversation I’m addressing to white folks, I hope it also shows solidarity with Friends of color, by taking on the work of speaking truth to other white people so you don’t have to, and if I’ve missed the mark on any of my analyses or if (when) I’m still showing blind spots in my internalized biases, I would be grateful for any corrections I need to be given.
If you get nothing else from this message, know that what I am essentially trying to communicate here is that: When we say, “There is that of God in every one,” when we say, “Black lives matter,” when we say we stand in solidarity with those who are marginalized, these are intensely relational and profoundly economic and ecological claims that place on us a responsibility of shared use, rights, justice, and care. And when I say “care,” I don’t just mean a warm feeling in our hearts, but a responsibility of shared use, rights, and justice, actively showing our care in how we structure our society and lives.
We also had the chance to lobby our US Senators and Representatives, so I participated with a couple dozen Oregonians in meetings with Sens. Merkley and Wyden (and/or their staff) and with Rep. Bonamici with several from her district. We talked to them about our concerns about police brutality in general, and particularly due to issues of racism. I appreciate that we have legislators who are willing to listen. We need to hold them accountable to also act.