Black Lives Matter: A Letter to WICC Sisters

Dear WICC Sisters,

I hope that you’re safe, healthy, and doing as well as you can right now amidst the uncertainty, fears, and changes due to the pandemic. (By the way, have you noticed how emails in 2020 are starting to sound a lot like Paul’s greetings in the Epistles?)

In an age of Zoom worship services, Microsoft Teamwork meetings, Google Classrooms, and FaceTime chats with family and friends, you might be spending hours every day in front of screens. In this way, even though it’s the beginning of a new season, you might already be feeling a) drained, b) disconnected, c) overwhelmed, or d) all of the above. To be honest, most days, I am d) all of the above. So, instead of an eloquent reflection on the reality of racial injustice in our country and around the world, I only have enough energy to share a few of my messy, anxious, and loving questions below – questions that I continually ask myself as a non-black person of colour and now ask you to ponder, too:

  • What is my gut reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests? Do I focus more on the looting and rioting than on the peaceful protests? Do I focus more on what a minority of people are doing rather than on what the majority is protesting against – police brutality and systemic, anti-black racism?
  • Regarding the riots, can I put myself in the shoes of people who are so outraged and fed up with racism and violence that they feel their only recourse is to smash and burn things? Do I even know what that feels like to be so feared, demeaned, and judged for the colour of my skin?
  • Can I say “Black lives matter” in an online sermon, prayer, or a conversation with a loved one? Can I put “Black Lives Matter” on my church’s electronic sign and website or on my Facebook wall for all to see? If I can’t or am hesitant to say it, whose comfort is being prioritized?
  • Moreover, isn’t saying that Black lives matter a low bar? Can’t we affirm something greater than this as people of faith and as human beings?
  • What are the anti-Black, racist ideas, words, and actions that I’ve internalized and perpetuated as a non-black person of colour? What are the ways that I can challenge the prejudices that I have because of my culture, language, and upbringing?
  • How do I stop being silent and complicit about anti-Black racism in small and big ways every single day?

In Galatians 6:9, the Apostle Paul wrote “do not grow weary of doing what is good.” I think that these words might speak to a lot of us right now who are feeling weary, frustrated, and overwhelmed… and yet, if this is how I feel as an Asian woman, how do my Black friends, colleagues, pastors, and neighbours feel? These are hard, uncomfortable questions that you and I have to keep asking ourselves because Black lives matter – period.

Awit Marcelino

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Appointee on the WICC Board, International Committee for the Fellowship of the Least Coin Representative

Editor’s note:  Congratulations to Awit on her recent MDiv graduation from Emmanuel College, U of Toronto!  Best wishes, as well, to Awit and her fiancée, for their October wedding.

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