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,