It’s washed away now. Bare.
The rain stripped our sidewalk clean Tuesday. It left no traces of the laughter that we had last week with colored chalk, drawing pictures with our 2-year-old granddaughter.
We had fun writing names.
But sometimes we write names for another reason.
And writing these names is not fun.
We write these names as a testament to a life taken too soon. It’s a ritual undertaken frequently to memorialize yet another Black man or woman dying at the hands of systemic racism in our country.
Isn’t everyone talking about it?
When we don’t speak up about racial injustice, why not?
Here are 8 thoughts behind choosing silence. Unfortunately, I’m guilty of some.
Sometimes we don’t speak up because we feel hopeless. We think our voice won’t make a difference. Nothing ever changes. Why bother?
But *I* didn’t do anything, we say. *I* am not racist, we say. We drown out voices telling us otherwise. Our pride smothers our humility. It strangles our repentance and growth.
When I watched the video of Amy Cooper call the police on Christian Cooper, a Black birdwatcher in Central Park, I cringed. For her weaponization of white women’s tears. Sometimes we want to ignore the stories because we feel ashamed by them.
Or we’re quiet because we think nobody is listening to us anyway. Why talk into the void? Our sound is too faint.
Does racial inequality really concern me? Everything’s stable in my community. Why stir things up? We have no skin in the game.
Or we don’t want to say the wrong thing. We don’t want to be misunderstood. We don’t want to make things worse. So we say nothing.
Maybe we’re conflicted. We’re not even sure what we believe. We’re waiting for complete confidence before we say anything at all.
Or maybe we see others face retaliation when they speak up. We don’t want to lose friends or make someone angry at us. Conflict makes us uncomfortable.
But does silence really resolve any of these concerns? Does it release us from personal responsibility?
Does it make racial inequality disappear?
Where Do I Start?
You don’t have to start big.
Here’s what speaking up does NOT require.
- It doesn’t require you to wear black t-shirts with meaningful sayings (although you might).
- It doesn’t require you to march for miles around a courthouse with a crowd of people (although you may).
- It doesn’t require you to blast your thoughts on social media or blog posts or anywhere online (although you can).
Start here instead: with yourself. Talk it out with God about you.
What do I believe about race? About justice? Why? Why not? Are my beliefs helpful or harmful to God’s heart? To other people?
Then maybe talk it out in the privacy of your home. With your partner, with your kids, with your parents.
Maybe you will talk it out further with others. With coworkers or church members or friends in your neighborhood.
Of course racial injustice need not be the only thing we talk about. But it is one thing we need to talk about. It’s worth our time. It’s worth the risk.
And it might just be a matter of life or death to another human being.
Oppression Hurts Everybody
Something stirs in each of us when we see injustice.
And when we cause or contribute to injustice ourselves? Once we realize it, let’s repent. Grieve it. Turn from it. Change.
Oppression not only harms the oppressed, it also destroys the oppressor. It eats away at our souls until they crack.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, Latasha Morrison says in her book Be the Bridge that we are the agents of reconciliation. And because of that:
“It’s never too late for us to acknowledge and lament racial injustice. It’s never too late to understand the historic depth of racism and to ask God to show his mercy and heal us.”
It’s never too late to give our nation a fresh start and make the world a safer place.
I believe God smiles when he sees our attempts to play better together, to love each other stronger, to write each other’s names in chalk on sidewalks—for life, not death.
This is work for all of us to do.
We are all stewards of God’s grace.
Add Your Voice
We drove our granddaughter back home on Saturday. We returned home to a quiet house.
I put the sidewalk chalk back in its box. I’ll save it again for the next time she visits.
And then we’ll draw again. It still won’t be a masterpiece. We won’t get it perfect. Not many people will ever see it or know about it.
But we’ll know we did it. We’ll keep adding our names and voices to life’s conversation, however small. It will form us.
Add your voice, too.
You have something to say.
- To somebody.
- At some volume.
- For peace and justice and righteousness.
Say your something.
And Now . . . Our Featured Post
Yvonne Chase, a sister of color and of common faith, writes her response to a white sister about how to respond to racial injustice at her post, Silence Speaks Volumes.
She doesn’t want to offend you. But listen. Listen with your heart to her heart.
I’ve been sitting with her words all week since I read her post.
“Whatever you do, don’t be silent….If you are my sister in Christ and believe we’re all made in God’s image, how can you be silent?”
May Yvonne’s words stick with you, too.
“Black people cannot fight this battle alone. We need our white allies to come alongside us and fight with us until change comes.”
Then add your own links below so we can hear your voice, too.
Thanks for sharing, Yvonne! Here’s a button for your blog.
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Now Let’s Link Up!
So many of you ARE saying things! We read your words and hear your hearts here online and in person. We’re listening and learning. Thank you.
Get the infographic here of 8 Reasons We Don’t Speak Up…and Why We Should Anyway
- Kindness Isn’t Always About Our Comfort
- 8 Reasons We Don’t Speak Up Against Racial Inequality