LENT. 17.

LENT. Day 17.

Learn about and oppose systemic racism.

This topic has been heaviest and hardest on my heart throughout my hopes of understanding the racial divide and attempting to really advocate for racial justice.
I connect and learn really well through story, most of all when that story brings me to questions for which I feel I HAVE to find answers. This is vulnerable for me, but until I saw the movie Lincoln in 2012, I really, really did not understand how the horrifically oppressive system that was slavery was still effecting black people and African Americans today. I didn’t really have thoughts like, “they should just get over it” because… empathy. But I definitely did not realize the systems that were put into place and the stories – and lies – which continued to be told to keep people of color oppressed in our culture ever since the slaves were set “free.”
If I felt betrayed by my education when I came to the questions I did after I watched Lincoln, by the time I got to the film 13th last year, I was completely beside myself. Slavery was abolished in the 13th amendment, but has since morphed into the mass incarceration crisis we see today if we are willing to look. 
I remember asking questions I had never even thought before, even just on the drive home from seeing that movie. And feeling completely betrayed by everything I had (not) learned of American history throughout my school years.
The reason this topic has been so hard for me to try to write about is that it still seems overly complex for me to try to explain. Films like the ones I listed on Day 11 really helped me to ask the right kind of questions that led me to resources and incredibly eye opening conclusions. This work (of pursuing racial justice) though, is a huge undertaking. I say that not as a deterrent. I obviously believe it is one that you ought to take – I think every single person in our country (who is inevitably a part of these systems which continue to oppress people of color) ought to seek out evidence which reveals the brutal truth of the systemic racism which takes place daily.
As with any time you open your mind, it requires significant mental and emotional energy to understand things from perspectives you’ve never considered. Your entire paradigm might actually shift and that courage will inevitably open you up to a more real world than you’ve experienced before… In all of its’ wonder and glory and pain and horror.
Truly beginning to see the oppression which continues today has been both of those things – wonderful (because truth always is) and excruciating (because I don’t want it to be true.)

Last thought – recently, someone asked me WHY I care to put forth all of this energy, especially when sometimes the places I come to can be confusing – sometimes I think I’ve understood something, only to have someone else’s completely valid perspective color it entirely differently, and I’m left fairly unsure of what’s really possible for racial justice. So I realize, that like everything else worth doing, it’s about the constant forward motion through failure and mistakes, to keep pursuing truth and striving to know better and do better.

(Btw – My answer to the WHY is that it is right. Justice is essential, and this is a simple way to pursue justice.)
Links:
+ Huffington Post Article: The Evolution: Slavery to Mass Incarceration.
+ Movie, on Netflix: 13th.
+ Book: The New Jim Crow

#antiracismforlent #antiracismforlife #systemicracism

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