The events of these two weeks are calling us once more to join with those who are mourning the loss of loved ones whose lives have been cut short by racist-driven violence. Over these first fifteen years of the Twenty-first Century, we have received this call too many times and it seems to be coming more and more frequently.
As long as any people are treated as or even considered as less worthy than others, we will never stand together as a strong people in this country. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. None of us are free, if any one of us is not free. The belief that “We are all made in God’s image” is fundamental to all religious belief systems. If this is so, how can we consider one person someone lesser than another? Or put another way, how can we consider some of us more worthy, more privileged than others?
Sadly, the early beginnings of this country were based on this erroneous belief. From the people who were brought as slaves from Africa, to the Native-Americans who were the original peoples, to those from Mexico and Asia who have been prevented by the laws of our land from living free normal lives, this country has treated non-whites as “less than”. And yet we call ourselves People of God!
Racism resides not only in individuals but is institutionalized in this country. Unless we act to address institutionalized racism, we are doomed to continue to repeat the killings of innocent persons because of where they come from, the color of their skin, the religion they follow and the language they speak.
Core to Hope CommUnity Center’s mission is bringing people of all persuasions together to learn and act together in ways that begin to subvert the individual and institutional racism which exists among us. As we change our individual attitudes and actions, we also need to work to make practical changes in the way our country deals with poverty, justice, our laws and the distribution of wealth. This is not just an issue to be addressed by people of color, but by the white community as well. We must all work together to bring about racial justice and fundamental systemic change in our society.
Let us all, no matter where we are or what we do, respond to this call to dig deeper into the values that we hold and struggle together in diverse groups to understand the effects of this racism on all of us and to change the values and structures of this society from which some of us benefit and others of us suffer.