Black History Month Reflections Reflection by Rev. Nancy Brink & Dr. Gail Stearns
January 18, 2022
From Rev. Nancy Brink –
We are in the midst of Black History Month. How important it is, to seek out and learn the many hidden tragedies and even greater triumphs of Black Americans that are largely hidden in our teaching of history.
But is history enough?
I have been doing a great deal of reading of Black authors, particularly in areas of critical race theory and social justice. What shines through all of my reading is how much I was not taught to begin with and how much I have to UNLEARN as a White person in America.
Unlearn? These are just a very few examples.
- That poor people (no matter their race) aren’t as smart or as motivated as those who are successful financially
- That everyone can succeed if they just work hard enough
- That the reason persons of color are having far worse outcomes during the pandemic has nothing to do with systemic racism
- That I have the right to talk first and often in any meeting—and interrupt
- That the most important measure of a person is the education that they have attained
- That the success I have had in my career had nothing to do with the networking afforded me by my successful parents
What do YOU need to unlearn?
From Dr. Gail Stearns –
Even before he spoke at Chapman University in December, 1961, Martin Luther King discussed the evolution of his understanding through metaphysics to action, toward faith and nonviolence as ways of life. He emphasized that although it was a time of uncertainties and tensions, a profound and meaningful shift had already begun toward establishing justice and equality in systematic ways. As we experience the devastating dismantling of the right to vote in our country today, undeniably undergirded by racism, we too live in a time of divisive tensions and uncertainties.
I want to have faith we, like the leaders and countless unnamed marchers of the 1960s, aren’t starting from scratch. I want to believe that we can overcome partisanship to stand on the right side of history for human and civil rights, as so many did in the 1960s. I do believe that the spirit of hundreds of thousands of people inspired by Dr. King and other civil rights leaders supports hundreds of thousands seeking equality today.
Nancy is right – it is way past time that white people finally realize that regulation and adjustment to white-body supremacy is in our history, our culture, and our psyches; we are not apart from it. It is time to dismantle and disrupt this within ourselves and our culture, a process which will bring more backlash and tension before we are finished. There is much we can do, from listening to one another, to active involvement in civil rights legislation. I do believe, as Dr. King wrote, that the spirit of the Creator who created all humans equal may yet be honored as equality is sought through every effort of every one of us today.