Written by Pepe Demarest, Pastoral Intern
Black History month has been honored every February since 1976. This date happens to be the bicentennial of America, celebrating 200 years of freedom from oppression. 1976 also happened to be the year I graduated from high school. Although I have changed quite a lot in these 45 years, the freedom, the freedom we declared 245 years ago, hasn’t come for all people. There may be a feeling that “all lives matter", and we shouldn’t have to single out Black lives or Black history. Yet, as the body of Christ, if one part suffers, we all suffer. The Declaration of Independence signed 245 years ago this July 4th states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Sometimes as we celebrate the wonderful contributions of African Americans, we may be proud of the progress we have made. Yes, progress has been made, but Black homeownership, one indicator of economic parity, is the same as it was when The Fair Housing Act was signed into law in 1967. With all of the political gains since the end of Jim Crow voter suppression, today there are no black women senators in the current US Senate. Maybe this year Black History Month can be a time to reexamine why this disparity continues.
During Lent, traditionally a season of self-examination, we will be reading My Grandmother’s Hands: Radicalized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem, a counselor and trauma specialist. We will be looking at how all of us, even white people, have been deceived by racism and whiteness. In Mr. Menakem’s words: “Italians, Irish, Eastern European Jews, and other European immigrant groups were initially regarded as stupid, barbaric, and dangerous. Within a generation or two, however, each of these new white immigrant groups was socialized, colonized, and accepted by other Americans by being introduced into the false community of whiteness” (71). We will meet virtually every Monday evening in Lent to discuss the reading and to take time to pray and reflect on how the Holy Spirit is calling us to become more of “The Beloved Community.” If you are interested in joining us, please contact me (Pepe@lifeatctk.org) and order the book (click here). I pray that you will join us as we listen and learn from each other and experience some discomfort for the sake of healing and wholeness.
Black History month can be a time to celebrate all of our history. In the words of Amanda Gorman, the Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate,
”For it’s not just in the Declaration of Independence,
but the everyday declaration of its descendants that make a people equal...
It is our right and our role to remember these words scratched on a scroll so we may heal our nation whole...
Everyday we write the future, together we sign it, together declare it, we share it for this truth marches on inside each of us.”