Lament, Converse, & Act. #BlackLivesMatter
Today on The Feed, we remember that in times of tragedy and injustice, it is important to lament, converse, and act.
“My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick...
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.” (Jeremiah 8:18, 21)
When tragedy befalls us, we must lament. Lament allows us to express important feelings of anger and hurt. Without expressing these feelings, resentment and bitterness may fester over time, making it harder for us to live with emotional integrity or act effectively.
At the same time, lament is a means, not an end. It must lead to action. Lament without action risks becoming trite and removed from the very suffering it mourns.
Ask yourself how you feel. Allow and invite yourself to feel your emotions. Look to the psalms for examples of lament. Write your own psalm. Lament.
Then take action.
Initiate Conversations with Your Friends of Color—and Listen
If you are striving to be a good ally, ask your friends of color today how they are doing and feeling. Even as allies, it can be easy to post on Facebook about tragedies, but difficult to converse directly with the very people we care about who are most impacted. But this is the very reason we have relationships. Recent studies are indicating that the ongoing onslaught of news, photos, and videos of violence against persons of color are adding to a history of racial trauma—trauma which people of color are rarely given space to voice and discuss with people not of color who care about them.
So don’t wait for friends of color to raise the issue. Extend the love and hospitality that nearly every religion in the world calls us into and, as uncomfortable as it may be, simply begin by asking them how they are doing and if they might like to talk. If they say yes, or begin to talk—listen. Don’t offer advice or question their viewpoint. Just listen to the experience of this person that you love and care for. They may express anger—experiences with injustice have a way of making people angry, after all—but remember that this anger is not about you. It’s about the situations. It’s about the institution of racism in which we all live, that we all want to dismantle. If you experience them struggling with their expression, try and hang in there. Few of us enjoy expressing our feelings, even when we need to.
Finally, don’t shift the conversation to how sad, angry, or grief-filled this makes you. We may want to show solidarity by demonstrating that we, too, are impacted. But this is a space for their lament. Express solidarity by being present with them in their grief, not by accidentally co-opting it.
Ways to Take Action:
1. SURJ. Connect with SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), a national network made up of groups and individuals with the purpose of organizing White people to be active in racial justice issues. Find a chapter or affiliate near you!
2. PICO. Get involved with PICO (People Improving Communities through Organizing), a faith-based network of organizations committed to finding innovative solutions to problems facing communities of all kinds. Visit their Action page today!
3. Black Lives Matter. This is a national organization whose purpose is to support and validate the importance of Black Life. #BlackLivesMatter is chapter-based, so make sure to find your local group!
4. NAACP. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People exists to ensure human rights for all people and to eradicate race-based discrimination. Remember that people of all races are welcome to join!