Read: “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)
Reflect: Racism hurts and education was where I first experienced its pain. It hurt when I noticed stark disparities in resources, aesthetics, teaching and opportunities between the predominantly white elementary I attended in the suburbs (a product of 1970’s bussing) and the black and Latino high school I attended in my “hood.” Race was a distinct factor. Messages received in high school were clear…you are not worth new books, your learning is not important so you’ll have multiple, unqualified, substitute teachers for extended periods of time; you are criminal so security will have priority over nurses, librarians and counselors when it comes to staffing. I have spent years fighting the urge to buy into the lessons I was taught in school.
There was brilliance, talent, kindness and courage in my neighborhood yet those stories were rarely told. Textbooks and media often minimized our historical contributions and negatively stereotyped us, leaving trails of hurt and anger. I clung to those who saw an ounce of my worth and rode their wave of love to 25 years of advocating for social justice in higher education. It hurts because society doesn’t position everyone to catch those waves.
When God’s word screams justice, grace and love, it hurts when someone sees the color of my skin and makes judgements that render my family and community unworthy, unloved and unprotected, especially when I know that we, too, were made in God’s image. I’m not naïve enough to believe that racism will disappear in my lifetime so instead of fixing my eyes on its cancerous impact, I fix my gaze on God and seek his wisdom in being a beacon of hope and love in a world that is hurting.
React: Where does racism show up in your life? How does God’s light shine through you when racism appears in your world?
Pray: God, let my light shine and reflect your love for all people!