Don't be a bystander: Resources for those in the movement for change

Jennifer A. Guerra Aldana Image Jennifer A. Guerra Aldana | Jun 11, 2020

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.

Talking About Race with Teenagers

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More resources from the Fuller Youth Institute

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4 healing steps for leaders of color serving in white spaces
5 tips for cross-cultural conversations with teens

How can I further educate myself about racism?

Processing racialized violence with students
We’re not all just alike: Challenges and opportunities in multiethnic youth ministries
No longer an option: The essential role of cultural intelligence in youth ministry

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America’s 2020 ethnic reality
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Unity does not equal uniformity
Cultural Intelligence
The way of privilege

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Helping young people grieve and take action
4 steps to evaluate or create inclusive curriculum

Talking with young people about Ferguson
Help students to embrace a justice that restores

How can I have conversations with young people in my church?

Understanding & Relating to African American Youth
Understanding & Relating to Latino/a Youth: A Bilingual & Intergenerational Conversation Toolkit

Understanding & Relating to Asian American Youth

Resources we’re learning from

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I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Stamped from the Beginning
America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America
Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart
Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America
The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege
A Different Mirror—A History of Multicultural America
The Cross and the Lynching Tree
Between the World and Me

When You’re Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression
Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People about Racism
I Used to Lead Tours at a Plantation. You Won’t Believe the Questions I Got About Slavery
White Debt
On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart

Let’s Talk about Whiteness

How the Systemic Segregation of Schools is Maintained by ‘Individual Choices’

Black Lives Matter Syllabus Fall 2016
Be the Bridge

How can we talk with young people about race?

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

A Different Mirror for Young People
American Born Chinese
More Than Serving Tea

How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism
How Talking to Your Kids About Race Helps Fulfill the Great Commission

What White Children Need to Know about Race
5 Ways Parents Pass Down Prejudice and Racism
Children’s Books to Help Talk about Race with Kids

Raising Race Conscious Children
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack—Checklist used in college classes to teach about white privilege

13th Documentary (for older teenagers)
Just Mercy

How can we widen the conversation in our churches?

Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times

Rediscipling the White Church
Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism
Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community
Race and Place: How Urban Geography Shapes the Journey to Reconciliation
The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right
Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love
Roadmap to Reconciliation—Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Let Justice Roll Down
The Power of Proximity

38 Resources to Help Your Church Start Discussing Race Today
Six Things To Do When You Live on 'White Island'

When Christians Won’t Say #BlackLivesMatter
What Can You Do Right Now About Police Brutality

Fuller Studios: Kevin Doi on Ethnicity and the Incarnation
On Being: John A. Powell on Opening the Question of Race to the Question of Belonging

The Practice: Stories of Resurrection in Race
The Problem We All Live With (Part 1) and (Part 2)
Faith Conversations: Mark Buchanan on Your Church is Too Safe
It's Never Too Late to Talk About Race in Your Church
On Being: Michelle Alexander on Who We Want to Become—The New Jim Crow
Faithfully Podcast: Kathy Khang on Will Christians Ever Get Race Relations Right?

Breaking the Model Minority Myth
#ThisIs2016—Asian Americans Respond with Their Stories of Racism

Verge Network: The artist Propaganda on Understanding the Problem
Covenantal Restoration: A 12 Session Film Series on Faith and Race

Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism
White Allies in Training

Faith for Justice

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Jennifer A. Guerra Aldana Image
Jennifer A. Guerra Aldana

Jennifer A. Guerra Aldana, originally from Guatemala, grew up in Southern California as the daughter of church planters. Jennifer received her B.A in Social Work at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) and worked with various populations in San Diego County. She has pastored in bilingual, intergenerational, and intercultural ministries and earned her Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. She has led research projects and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Fuller Youth Institute. She is the author of several pastoral toolkits, blogs, and academic publications. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Azusa Pacific University and is a professor in the School of Theology at PLNU. Her passions include borderland conversations, intercultural youth spiritual formation, bilingual ministries, and theological education for the Latina community.

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