Saturday, February 13
1 Samuel 16:6-7 – When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
How beautiful would life be, how egalitarian would be the church, and how quickly would we adopt antiracist practice if we took to heart God’s teaching to Samuel? Ibram X. Kendi, writing in How to be an Antiracist, zeroes in on the heart of racism, which is the ease with which we generalize from an individual to a group. This generalizing upward is no accident, we were taught it overtly as well as through patterns deeply encoded in the dominant culture’s apparatuses. Kendi writes, “But generalizing the behavior of racist White individuals to all White people is as perilous as generalizing the individual faults of people of color to entire races. “He acted that way because he is Black. She acted that way because she is Asian.” We often see and remember the race and not the individual. This is racist categorizing, this stuffing of our experiences with individuals into color-marked racial closets. An antiracist treats and remembers individuals as individuals. “She acted that way,” we should say, “because she is racist.”
Action step: today, with brutal honesty allow yourself to examine ways in which you are programmed to think of groups not individuals. Try not to think of this as a shame exercise, we are all products of a racist structure. If we accept that racism isn’t the exception but the rule then we are free to embrace antiracism not as an accusation but as a call to redeem creation in a godly way. To look not on outward appearance but on the heart of those we meet.
In your image
You have created humankind, in great diversity.
We give thanks for the differences—
of cultures and ethnicities, of histories and life-stories, of skin colour and language and
hearts that love the world.
We watch in horror as Power desecrates Black and Brown bodies;
walks on their sacredness, kills and subjugates,
in thousands of ways, hidden and overt.
We must not stop at watching—
held back from right action by our horror or seeming powerlessness.
Grant us hearts that listen and learn;
egos that are willing to accept when our own racism is called out.
Grant us courage, to disassemble the systems,
the stories, the mythos, that privilege whiteness over all others.
Give us your Holy Spirit’s wind to call out racism in all its forms—
inside our hearts, inside the church, and in your world,
give us the strength, the wisdom and the will to root out White Fragility,
and White Supremacy, so that they would never again do harm,
never again take away, never again kill.
Help us to be anti-racist,
in all that we say, in all that we do, in all that we are.
It is time. It is well past time.
God of all creation,
bless us all with what we need, to march on.
To live this work of anti-racism.
In Jesus’ name.
May it be.
-A prayer by the Right Rev. Richard Bott. https://www.united-church.ca/prayers/anti-racism-prayer