Don't be a bystander: Resources for those in the movement for change
I walked through the doors to find my two roommates sitting on the couch. Both of their backs were hunched over and their faces filled with sadness. I joined them and sank into the couch.
We had spent our week walking through the streets of Los Angeles. We’d journeyed those streets before—but this time, we walked them in protest. We were praying with our feet.
I went to bed that night filled with anxiety and a deep sense of hopelessness. The systems of oppression that I see all around me always feel like they are getting the last word. As a Latina Guatemalan immigrant woman, I am surrounded by constant reminders that none of the systems I interact with on a daily basis were created with me in mind. Quite the opposite, they were designed to keep me out.
I am not alone in that experience. Although the marginalization my Black and Asian sisters and brothers experience is unique, we share the same oppressive systems.
These past weeks, the systemic injustice and violence experienced by my Black sisters and brothers has once again shown its face. This is not new—which for me, is precisely why it is exhausting. The conversations feel circular. It feels like every few months, my feet go from navigating the streets of my neighborhood for leisure to walking them in prayer and protest. I sink into couches with fellow exhausted sojourners and make a list of what’s next.
In a recent conversation with my therapist, I was reminded that I cannot dismantle any system by myself. I had swallowed the lie that the whole movement relied on my shoulders.
That I could not rest.
That I could not breathe.
As I sat with my tired bones and closed my eyes to breathe that day, the Scripture that came to mind was 1 Corinthians 12. The faces of my family members, friends, and colleagues came to mind and whispered to me, “Eres parte de un cuerpo” (You are part of the body).
Usually I want to cringe when I hear this passage quoted in response to injustice. Because it often comes out sounding like a free pass to get us out of doing the hard work that justice and reconciliation require. But in my most recent moment of total helplessness and exhaustion, these words surprised me by bringing life back into my bones.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.. ... As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 20, NIV)
Here is the truth I was missing: I am a part of the body, a part of the movement. A part of the solution.
A part—not the whole.
A third way
At times we can all feel a sense of hopelessness that settles deep into our bones. But it can also be tempting to avoid feeling overwhelmed by settling for over-simplistic answers. Both responses come from the same root: the myth of scarcity.
This myth has permeated the way we engage in the work of justice. Scarcity constantly tells us that we are not enough, that others are not doing enough, and that there is simply too much to tackle.
But at FYI, we’re committed to a third way. One that believes in abundance. Rooted in a deep belief that the spirit of God is at work, we know that we each have a part to play.
During the hours after this reminder, I stopped to take stock of the abundance around me. People were showing up in countless ways. Meals were being delivered to those on the front lines, prayer vigils were held, memorials dedicated to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were tended to, and marches continued. Parents gathered their children to speak about racism, neighbors checked in with one another, friends provided virtual spaces to laugh, pastors denounced racism from their pulpits, and colleagues realigned timelines to allow for breathing room for their colleagues of color.
The body was moving.
With this spirit of abundance in mind, I wonder how you see the body moving around you, with you, and beyond you during this season. The work is far from over—what part are you playing?
Take stock of the ways you can contribute, and lean in with generosity.
And as you continue to lean in, here are helpful resources for the journey.
Tweet: The work is far from over—what part are you playing? Here are helpful resources for the long journey toward equality.
Lead a diverse generation in faithful and caring discussions about race.
This easy-to-use guide is the perfect handbook for any leader who needs a starting point to talk about race, culture, immigration, and power with today’s young people.
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