Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine.
Last month I attended a simulcast of the Justice Conference with some incredible Canadian SheLovelys you might know.
Justice is a big word and I’d love to tell you that I left the conference with BIG PLANS to reform education in America or to END human trafficking or even to move to where Saskia is and work to change the lives of those who have been trafficked. (P.S. I would love to live close to you, Sas.)
But I didn’t.
I’m sorry to tell you I didn’t leave with big dreams and plans of how I was going to change the way the world sees JUSTICE. I didn’t leave with that big word in my little head.
I left with a little prayer that racism would melt into the past and the world could walk forward seeing humans for their HUMANITY.
You see, the Justice Conference really moved me. Moved me to think about education equityand slavery and the prison system and poverty—and these things really matter to me. But every.single.time a presentation touched on racial inequality, my heart ripped to pieces and my eyes leaked big, quiet tears.
And I didn’t really expect that.
But there’s a little brown boy that makes this white girl get all kinds of fired up when I hear that the color of a person’s skin is a factor in their success.
My nephew Luke is 7. He is brilliant. (No joke here; when he was 4 he asked me if I knew Jupiter didn’t have a mesosphere. Who knew that? Not me.)
Luke is also half Kenyan. He lives in a diverse neighborhood. He attends a diverse school with great opportunities for his brilliant mind to advance quickly. My sister likes to remind me that Luke is so much like me when I was little. Too smart for his own good. Always needs to be right. Stubborn. Tenacious. Obnoxious. (Maybe too much like me.)
He’s happy and probably oblivious that adults don’t always play nice. So far, so good.
But my heart breaks to think maybe it won’t always look like that. Maybe he won’t always live in a neighborhood with kids who look like him and who look like me and who look like a rainbow of ethnic heritage. What will the future hold for my beautiful, brown nephew as he grows older? Will he get pulled over when he’s driving his first car because he’s out late? When he works hard will he still get passed over for a promotion? Will strangers be afraid to sit by him on the bus?
My heart breaks when I remember my young friends in New Orleans. Their segregated neighborhood has taught them that systematic racism is alive still. These kids have already learned that opportunities don’t come their way as often as they do for the kids on the other side of the river.
And that makes me mad. And it breaks my heart. It leaves me wondering what am I supposed to do about it? How can I change it?
Sadly, I don’t have answers right now.
When I think of what justice means, I think of my street in Tacoma—where the kids don’t yet know too many people will judge their color, gender, accent, culture. I want to see justice on my street. I want to see justice for Luke. I want to see it for my friends on that New Orleans playground.
And right now I don’t have big plans. I just have that little prayer.
Episcopal Prayer for Justice
Eternal God, in whom the whole family of earth is one, breathe your spirit into our hearts that we may establish a global community of trust and fellowship, justice and peace. Illuminate the darkness of our minds that we may see your light and serve your glory by advancing the greater good of all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord.