By Fred Dabrowski, CTA Anti-Racism Team & Vision Council Member
“Beware of practicing your piety before others to attract their attention…”
God, Creator of all things, we come broken with a heart that has been torn like Jesus on the cross, the cross that draws together your children of many colors. You know our suffering. We ask in Jesus’ name that you heal your people.
Where there has been unearned advantage because of the color of our skin, give us courage to repent and to fight the injustice and sin of racism. Holy God, who created all colors of people, allow us to honor your light in every soul.
Help us to see you in one another, to hear your voice in all people, and to work to end racism in our church, our communities, and the world. Amen.
Fasting from Racism (Reflection):
Today is the beginning of Lent, a time to look at how we are living our lives, a time to reflect on if we are using the grace and gifts we have been given as Jesus showed us, or if we have become alienated from our purpose. The reading from Joel begins with God saying, “return to me with your whole heart”, inviting us to turn back to God and away from living as if we are separate from life itself. The reading from Matthew reminds us that when we put on an appearance of piety as we participate in the structures that benefit us while hurting others, we lose our connection to God and the grace we have been given.
Racism and White Supremacy permeate our society. They’re promoted by fear of the other: people of color, immigrants, Muslims, anyone different from us. Our laws and practices are used to victimize, imprison or deport those we fear. Our institutions are designed so that racism can be normalized, thus ensuring the oppressed are denied equal opportunity and cannot have a voice. So outwardly we can deny that we are racist, while maintaining the advantages provided by the structures. This is supported by people who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus. Yet they do whatever it takes to protect their power.
If we are going to return to God, we need to speak out. We need to reach out to those who are being persecuted, provide support for their efforts and resist the temptation to do nothing. We need to listen to them and follow their lead. If we do not resist evil, we are complicit. The problems are real and most white people do not want to face the facts. It is easy to say I am not racist yet if we do not act to expose the racist policies and institutions, we are rejecting God’s love.
Questions for Discussion:
1. How do I benefit and / or how am I hurt by the systems and institutions of our society?
2. How can I begin to “fast” from the benefits or oppressions I receive from racist systems?
At the CTA Detroit Regional Conference in 2017, one of the presenters, Raphael Wright, has a project to start a Black-Owned Grocery Store in an area of Detroit that is a food desert. Learn more and go to the GoFundMe Page.
Fred Dabrowski is a member of the CTA Anti-Racism team, the CTA-RGV Texas chapter and an at large member of the Vision Council. He’s also active in other peace and justice organizations in the Rio Grande Valley and West Michigan.