As we enter what feels like the most important Black History Month yet, what are you doing to learn more about Black history? Perhaps share a comment in response to this blog on your activities, reading, or discussions? I would be interested in hearing from you.

I am doing lots of reading—what a joy it is to be retired and be able to read, read, and read. I have three books in process.

Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation As An Exercise in Hope, Esau McCaulley.

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become A Good Ancestor, Layla F. Saad.

The World Is About To Turn: Mending A Nation’s Broken Faith, Rick Rouse and Paul O. Ingram.

Janet and I also continue in our Difficult Discussions-Racism group. This continues to be an excellent group with thoughtful discussions. Last night we discussed microaggressions and the following recommended CNN article was one of our sources. It explains what a microaggression is, gives some common examples, and explains why they are offensive. Dear Anti-racist allies: Here’s how to respond to microaggressions.

I am finding the last book in the above list, The World Is About To Turn especially thought provoking. Let me share a few quotes and thoughts.

The authors (Rouse and Ingram) write that “Slavery—and the racism behind it…was a choice.” They explain further, “A racial divide was constructed by legislatures, churches, and newspapers with laws and mores enforcing what blacks could do and could not do and whom they could love and not love. This was the genesis of the systemic racism that permeates America today.”

Rouse and Ingram close their first chapter quoting the following portion of a powerful poem by Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again.” For the full text of the poem go HERE.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

I read all of this and wonder what it means to “believe in America,” what it means to be a “patriot.” Some may think that to be a patriot one must believe that America can do no wrong, has done no wrong. It means to have pride in America. But I ask, why can’t being a patriot mean recognizing our many faults, our sin, our brokenness, the myriad ways we have oppressed, enslaved, and murdered Black and Indigenous men, women, and children for 400 years. Why can’t a patriot be a person who repents, learns, changes their behavior, and even promotes reparations to those who have been harmed? Perhaps that is what a patriot is to me. One who loves all people, but hates racism; one who loves what America can be, but severely questions what America is and has been.

Is there any hope? Rouse and Ingram call upon the hope offered by Walter Brueggemann, “If we ponder our destination, perhaps it is to be to the neighborhood of shalom, the neighborhood of shared resources, of inclusive politics, or random acts of hospitality and intentional acts of justice, or fearless neighborliness.”*

That is the destination I pray, hope, and work for.

God bless,
Coe

*Walter Brueggemann, A Way Other Than Our Own.