By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley
For the past two weeks, I’ve heard the word protestor repeatedly, and it occurred to me that we have adopted it as an acceptable description of the individuals who are marching for justice and anti-racism. I’ve decided I will no longer use that word because, in my mind, these are not protesters. I see those marching as champions, promoters, supporters, allies, and advocates for justice. They are ushering in our new paradigm. I’m not talking about the rioters and those committing crimes, that’s a different topic. I’m referring to the peaceful demonstrators advocating for justice and peace.
I jogged faster than ever before last Wednesday. I surprised myself at how fast I was jogging. After watching the news the day before, the chants of the crowds of champions for justice reverberated in my mind as I jogged: no justice, no peace, black lives matter, hands up, don’t shoot. It was powerful. I remembered that not all people have the privilege of running in their neighborhoods without fear, which seems unjust to me.
Later that same afternoon, I learned that a group of champions for justice were marching down my street. I took a video of them on my iPhone and posted that to my Facebook profile.
It was so powerful. Pulled to these champions like a magnet to metal, I wanted to jump in behind them and march. I had to pull myself away to get back to work.
I wasn’t pulled to them like a magnet because of mob mentality. It was on a soul level — this soul agrees wholeheartedly with this movement, one hundred percent.
I was deeply moved by a black woman in her early 70’s. She came running out of her home in a robe with a towel wrapped on her head. She had just washed her hair and heard the champions approaching and wanted to see them. We stood together on the street corner, watching, and listening. She said, “Thank you, God, for these beautiful souls.” My heart compelled me to tell her she mattered. I put my phone away, looked her in the eyes, and said sincerely, “You matter.” She thanked me and began to cry. I cried too.
Then I went back to work.
I’ve asked myself what is mine to do and heard the call to facilitate a book study of White Fragility, which begins this Thursday.
I had to reprioritize my schedule, which wasn’t easy, but this is important. Our Center will not hold our Wednesday Eve service until further notice to focus on doing our part to end racism. Do you need to shuffle and reprioritize too? This matters. It is important. I hear the champions for justice, asking me for help. Do you hear them too? They marched by my home to get my attention. How can I not heed the call to action?
As you march on in your daily life, I invite you to ask yourself, “What is Mine to Do?”