Choose Ye This Day

A friend shared a news feed with me where people were rejecting reality-based curriculum being taught in schools.

Reality, Truth, Facts – It’s not always pretty but Truth is necessary for healing. Looking at the reality of our society, the truth, and facts – We are a structurally racist society that was founded on the principle of white supremacy.

As I scrolled down the post trying to get to the end of the comments, I gave up. A feed like that, where people go down a rabbit hole of positive and negative comments, is not productive. It is not even dialogue even though there is a back and forth.

My questions:

  • When did reality and truth become a bad thing?
  • When we had a president who consistently lied and incited hate and violence? Being confronted with this bad behavior for a president, there were not calls from every neighborhood and state for his removal from office.
  • When we saw him push his racist agenda forward and hope became embedded in his lies? The hope of fellow racists, insurrectionists, ‘patriots’ and other white supremacists to take their country back from all the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) who have flooded this land; this land that does not belong to them anyway.

The bible that I read says, the truth shall set you free. I believe in this word of scripture; thus, I believe we are way past the time of telling the truth about OUR country. It is more imperative now as we balance precariously between the way of truth and all that is good for our country and the way of lies and a reversal of all the accomplishments made for justice and peace.

We need to teach not only our children but also the numerous adults who do not know of the atrocities, obstructions, and oppressions in US history. We need to expose them and receive healing as a nation. We also need to expose the myriad of ways from slavery and even into present day where the system has been and continues to be infused with racism and oppression toward BIPOC, especially Blacks.

We need to know these things so we can understand why there are calls for equity and justice in every aspect of society. In Joshua 24:15 it says, ‘Choose ye this day!’ Today, I choose peace and justice!

What do you choose?

Talking to Family and Friends About Racism

Talking with family and friends about racism is one of the hardest things to do if you are on opposite sides of the issue. There is a myriad of ways this can be done. Contact us at Visible Unity for more information or to participate in our programs to learn more.

  • Begin by sharing a personal experience of yourself or a friend of color
  • Ask them what they think about what you shared – Listen to their answer carefully and seek to understand their point of view (This isn’t the time for debate, even if they are in left field.)
  • That may be all you do the first time. You might have to do this a few times. If they would be able to handle it, you could also invite a person of color to come and share their experiences.
  • Then next time, ask their thoughts about something that is going on in your area (another shooting or killing, insurrection, etc.)
  • Respond with a question that seeks to point out issues they are not seeing or not informed about.
    • Do you realize that….
    • Did you know that…
    • How did you arrive at …
  • Just remember, we are all socialized on a racist platform. Plus, depending on one’s life experiences, their racist thinking may be entrenched. So, patience and grace are needed.

Note:

  • Be a Non-Anxious Presence.
  • Be open and honest. You still stumble and they will too.
  • Allow for questions.

Later on, add:

  • Talk about the taboo words, their original intent and current use today.
  • Have books to expand views and lives of others.

Let’s Start Disrupting and Reconstructing

It has been a while since I’ve been able to come up for air and share what’s on my heart and mind. I know that everyone (well, 81 million of us) is feeling excited about the new leadership in our country. I am excited as well. However, I want to caution us to not rush into the possibilities of a new dawn before we thoroughly and positively deal with January 6, a day that should never be forgotten. A lot was said and done (or not done) that led to that day, Insurrection Day. Politicians, news outlets, talking heads, academics, everyday Jills and Joes, even some church leaders threw gas on a living, breathing fire (also referred to as the “Big Lie”), which eventually resulted in aggressive, deadly actions taken by a mob to undermine and further divide our country. We MUST ensure that the fire-instigators as well as the perpetrators are held accountable for their words and actions. We MUST ensure that anyone involved in the domestic terrorist act is punished based on the severity of their actions and their position.

If we try to sugarcoat this act or merely slap people on the wrist that sends the message that their actions were not so bad. That is the wrong message to send. What they did was treasonous! What they did was seek to overthrow a legitimate, fair, and free election. What they did was carry out an attempted coup. They sought out politicians to kill, desecrated the flag, injured, even killed citizens. No, everyone inside the building nor outside on the Capitol grounds did not do the killing or desecrating, but all are complicit by their presence. This is the same thinking logic that is applied when Black Lives Matter protests are accompanied by riots, right? The public is told that all participants in BLM protests are guilty, all are rioters and violent. In actuality, 90 percent of BLM protests are peaceful. The other ten percent have been plagued by outsiders who are not even part of the protest. Media and law enforcement identifies them as neo-Nazis, agitators, white supremacists, etc. whose purpose is to discredit the protests, to muddy the message. Or, the rioters are outliers acting out of selfishness, greed, or anger. BLM protesters. Insurrectionists. Are they all guilty and complicit by their participation? By their presence? In the coming weeks and months, it will be interesting to see how the argument shakes out. It will be interesting to see how the narrative is shaped. America has a real opportunity to apply equity and justice. Will she? Will you?

Regardless of what the future holds, I encourage each of you to consider your part. Are you willing to contact your elected officials and media personalities and share your feelings about January 6th and the action you want them to take to ensure justice and equity across the board? Are you willing to add your voice to the narrative? Are you moved to begin or continue those difficult conversations with family members, friends, co-workers, etc. who were involved with Insurrection Day or who sympathize with the insurrectionists? Are you ready to start building coalitions and relationships with “others?” Today, we can start to create a healthy, just, and fair America. Together we can make our nation into what the founding document proclaims, “One nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” www.visibleunityinc.org

An Opportunity for Minorities

As Martin Luther King, Jr. day has come and gone, I have reflected on what his work and sacrifice has meant to all minorities. We all benefit. Yet the work was never completed and now it feels like we’re slipping backward. We need a concerted effort from all races, faiths and other dividers along with those white people who are ready and willing to be in the struggle with us.

One way that Visible Unity is combatting the divisions in our society is through the Unity Process. This nine-session process helps each diverse group look at their own biases and stereotypes and begin to address them (Formation). Then we learn and begin to have healthy conversations around race and other contentious topics (Discussions). Finally, each person gets to practice leading the group in having an open and honest discussion around the subject of their choice (Experience).

We are getting ready to start another group of diverse individuals. Our challenge is getting enough minorities to participate. The impact of going through this process has proven to be so profound on all participants. Particularly for the white participants, they are more informed, more prepared and more competent at having those hard conversations with people in their sphere of influence. The Unity Process brings about heart level change, which leads to transformation. This transformation is the beginning of eradicating racism in our communities.

So, minorities of Dallas, please go to our website and sign up. Let’s finish the work that has been started.

My Reflection on the Botham Jean Story

I was reading some posts by white people who seem to understand the systemic nature of racism. I agree with what they were saying. However, I felt like something was missing.

People always get all warm and fuzzy when they see black people forgiving their white perpetrators and yes, we need to forgive. However, that’s the problem. It is all one-sided.

Black people have to forgive.

Black people have to inform white people and prove to them the struggles and issues of racism that black people have to endure every day.

Black people have to protest, advocate and risk much for justice and equity.

Black people have to adapt their lives and be sensitive to the situations they are in constantly.

Black people have to give, give, give with no or little opportunities to receive.

Black people have to convince everyone else that we are worthy, have value and are due dignity, respect, just, and humane treatment.

People were so touched by the brother’s forgiveness yet upset with the mother’s critique. We see this all the time. I wonder if people realize that these collective reactions feel like a slap in our face. Yet again we are told, albeit not verbally, to suck it up and do the right thing. That thing that makes white people feel better and less anxious.

I am a person of peace but I AM TIRED!!!!!!

To those white people who are woke and understand the depths of racism we are dealing with, I say:

IT’S TIME TO SPEAK, ACT AND RISK

You must speak to everyone in your sphere of influence and even create larger networks and start informing everyone and having those hard conversations that are necessary

You must show up in a supportive and encouraging way – physically showing up at rallies and protests, materially showing up by voting for those who will help to dismantle this foundation of racism, whether they are in the party you typically vote for or not

You must risk as much as black people have to risk every day of their lives. Risk your family, your friends, your job, your community for the sake of justice and equity.

Matthew 23:23

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

There Is Hope!

Dallas has been in a tension-filled state for a while now and even the verdict and sentencing have not alleviated the tension. Things said during the trial actually added to the tension. We all agree that the police have a burden to bear and must implement change. However, I believe that we all have a burden to bear and must also be willing to implement change. Change in our thinking, beliefs, and behaviors.

One example of this I experienced this past weekend in a small town called Mulkiteo, WA. One year ago, my godson and another young man were murdered in Mulkiteo. One year later as things are winding down, my sister asked about some type of memorial for my godson. One of the officers took the lead and solicited for donations from the staff. They raised enough money to pay for a park bench with a plaque on it commemorating the life of my godson (see picture). Hence, my trip to Mulkiteo.

(Pictures: The bench, the view from the bench, my sister and one of the police hugging, me and my two sisters talking with one of the police.)

However, that’s only part of the story. We heard many stories from police staff (officers, detectives, victim advocates – from Mulkiteo and the county of Snohomish – see picture). I also talked with the mayor and she said they were intentional about hiring diverse staff and having the staff undergo diversity training. The police chief is Asian, they have women and men in all different positions. Some of them even got emotional when telling their stories.

It gave me hope and something to hold onto as I made my way back to Dallas and the uncertainties of the Guyger trial. Yes, we need to change. And yes, there is hope that change is possible. They are changing things in Mulkiteo, WA and it shows us that we can change things in Dallas, TX. Be encouraged and be ready, willing and able to do your part.

Police Staff

We Pray

God of Mercy, God of Grace, God of Love

I pray for Your peace, Your justice and Your healing everywhere around the world. We can’t turn on the news without hearing of people killing, hurting, mistreating or oppressing others.

I know You are not pleased with this and my heart breaks for this world.

I call on all true believers to pray!

Pray for God’s Peace!

Peace even in the midst of all the chaos in this world.

No more weapons (biological, physical or mental) turned on people.

Peace that yields a fervent and consistent truce among all peoples everywhere.

Pray for God’s Justice!

That all wrong will be made right!

That people will not have to live in fear and confusion!

That people, all people, can and do contribute and receive as they are blessed.

Pray for God’s Healing!

That all will be made anew in God’s image.

That all will find and walk into their God purpose.

That people will be helpful, kind and loving to one another.

God of Mercy, God of Grace, God of Love

My heart breaks every time I hear of yet another family or people group being ripped apart. How have we gotten to such a state? How can we turn things around?

For me, turning things around begins with Visible Unity, my nonprofit that is “Bringing People Together Through Reconciliation To Unity.”

Check out our website and come join us!

Blessings

Another Random Act of Interaction

My most recent Random Act of Interaction came a few weeks ago, somewhat by accident. At the Retirement Dinner for a dear friend from high school, I sat with members of his family. Kita sat next to me, and everyone at the table joined in a conversation about parenting and grand-parenting. I expressed a couple of thoughts based on my complete lack of inexperience in either department. Somehow, I mentioned that I had gone through a relationship difficulty many years ago. Kita noticed the comment, and asked me to talk a bit more about my experience. As we talked, I learned that she had a similar, but more recent experience. A spark went off in my heart. As much pain as I went through so many years ago, I could see a way to express to her the things that helped me cope, and the joy I now feel, having emerged on the other side. She also helped me to see the strength she has, knowing who she is and wanting to be true to herself. It was a wonderful, bonding experience that only happened because Kita was willing to step a little outside her comfort zone and engage with someone that, on the surface, seemed to have very little in common with her. Thank you, Kita. And thank you, Visible Unity, for giving us a place to record these experiences. Take the challenge, and then record your experience on social media, or http://www.visibleunityinc.org, with hashtags #RandomActsofInteraction and #ComfortZoneSucks so others will be inspired by your story.

Random Acts of Interaction

Image may contain: one or more people, eyeglasses and closeup

My most recent Random Act of Interaction came a few weeks ago, somewhat by accident. At the Retirement Dinner for a dear friend from high school, I sat with members of his family. Kita sat next to me, and everyone at the table joined in a conversation about parenting and grand-parenting. I expressed a couple of thoughts based on my complete lack of inexperience in either department. Somehow, I mentioned that I had gone through a relationship difficulty many years ago. Kita noticed the comment, and asked me to talk a bit more about my experience. As we talked, I learned that she had a similar, but more recent experience. A spark went off in my heart. As much pain as I went through so many years ago, I could see a way to express to her the things that helped me cope, and the joy I now feel, having emerged on the other side. She also helped me to see the strength she has, knowing who she is and wanting to be true to herself. It was a wonderful, bonding experience that only happened because Kita was willing to step a little outside her comfort zone and engage with someone that, on the surface, seemed to have very little in common with her. Thank you, Kita. And thank you, Visible Unity, for giving us a place to record these experiences. Take the challenge, and then record your experience on social media, or http://www.visibleunityinc.org, with hashtags #RandomActsofInteraction and #ComfortZoneSucks so others will be inspired by your story.

 

Random Acts of Interaction!

#RandomActsofInteraction
I just returned from a conference hosted by the Ponca tribe that was focused on Environmental Justice. I was hesitant about going because I have always had mixed feelings about Native Americans. However, I truly believe that if all people of color can come together and build relationships, then we can each support one another in our fights. The bottom line is we are all fighting the same thing – oppression, discrimination and corruption.

So, I came out of my comfort zone and went to the conference. I engaged in conversations and fully participated in the conference and now I have a better understanding of where Native Americans are coming from and I’m even more ready and willing to build relationships with them. Out of about 200 attendees, there were 7 Black people present, probably a dozen or so white people, maybe about the same number of Hispanic/Latino people and the rest were Native American. I hope that I was also able to encourage some of them about the importance of building relationships with other people of color. I even put it out there that for those interested, they could call upon me for assistance.

Sometimes it pays to stretch out of your comfort zone. 

#ComfortZoneSucks @VisibleUnity
I challenge you!

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