By Rev. Cindy Geisen, LSURJ Faith
As the child and niece of union laborers, I was raised with a heart for justice. Yet, I am a relative newcomer to the organized, public work for justice. I am learning so much - and still have so much to learn. At the end of a tumultuous, life-sapping and life-giving year, I’d like to share what I have gleaned about the multi-faceted work of justice.
Justice nudges us outward. It challenges us to pay heed to the experiences of people whose experiences differ from our own; to ferret out the histories we were never taught and the stories we never have been told; to open our eyes to the interlocking systems of injustice in which we are each complicit.
Justice moves us to action. Writing letters to legislators and editors; wielding our purchasing power wisely by patronizing businesses who fairly compensate their employees and boycotting those who do not; participating in marches and kitchen-table conversations are but a few ways to do justice in the public square.
Justice is spiritual work aimed at our own liberation as well as the liberation of all creation. Systemic racism diminishes all of us. Without for one moment equating the suffering of white people with the deep, ongoing suffering of our siblings of color, this work calls us to acknowledge that racism leaves no one unscathed. The work of justice therefore, requires us to sit with the consequences of racism…to examine the generational costs of averting our eyes from the suffering of others…to wonder how racist systems have shaped our relationships and our way of being in the world. The work of justice is, as Rev. angel Kyodo williams writes, “about allowing people the space and opportunity for discomfort so that they can touch their own suffering”…lest when people feel threatened…”they go back to the places of unaddressed suffering and… racialized behavior, like micro-aggressions, and so on, continue…”*
One of the many things I appreciate about working with LSURJ is that there are so many ways to participate in the work for justice - all of them necessary and valuable. If, like me, you are a relative newcomer to this work; if you’re wondering where you might begin; if you’d like to broach the topic of racism with your friends, members of your family, your neighborhood, or your faith community - we are here to lend a hand. Members of LSURJ - Faith will be happy to talk with you, to share ideas, resources and offer our support on your journey. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
* From Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, by Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, with Jasmine Syedullah, Ph.D,
Louisville Standing Up for Racial Justice (LSURJ) joins with countless other POC-led and other organizations working for collective liberation to strongly condemn the armed white supremacist insurrection that took place at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021.
It is particularly important for us to condemn this act, as news arises that Louisville was an organizing and mustering point for this display of hatred.
This act of white backlash is part of a deep pattern in our nation’s history when Black led struggle leads to shifts in power.
From the rise of Jim Crow and the KKK after Reconstruction to Cointelpro and the War on Drugs after the height of the civil rights movement, the attack in D.C. has deep roots. This particular attack has been in the making for years, and it was incited by many – from Donald Trump, his family, and closest advisors; to federal, state, and local government officials; to currently serving and retired law enforcement personnel; and others. We demand that all those who incited or participated in this violent white nationalist attack be held accountable for their actions.
This event was planned and orchestrated by numerous white nationalist and white supremacist groups working in concert. The growth of these groups is directly related to their fear of losing power and privilege as the nation “wakes up” to the insidious lies of institutional racism and what it really means for Black and Brown Lives to Matter.
The January 6 insurrection was an act of fear, desperation, racism, and bigotry. It must be a wake-up call to moderates and centrists who think that these groups just constitute a harmless fringe movement that can be ignored. They cannot. They must be aggressively opposed through the commitment on the part of those of us who are white, to dig deeply into organizing more and more white people for racial justice. When we fail to engage majority white communities in why joining with a multi racial change struggle benefits us too, we cede that territory and those conversations to those who stoke racism.
White supremacy systems must be dismantled by white folks, by whom and for whom they were constructed. It is critical that white people work collectively, through organizations such as LSURJ and other racial justice efforts, to fight against white supremacy in all its forms, and to work together with Black and other communities of color to achieve true justice and equity in our society for everyone.
Make no mistake: failure to speak out against racism is tantamount to complicity with that system. LSURJ is working to grow the base of white folks challenging white supremacy in all its forms. We call on others to join us.
Please join SURJ National on Wednesday night, January 13 at 8 pm ET, for a webinar on white backlash. Register at bit.ly/whitebacklash. If the webinar reaches capacity, it will also be live-streamed on Facebook.
The Louisville chapter of SURJ hosts online meetings the second Tuesday of every month at 7pm ET. Sign up for LSURJ emails to receive news and registration links for the meetings.