When They Go Low, We Go High

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

By Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell

A few months ago I had a conversation with a young woman who asked me to explain the word “grace” as used in the name of Grace and Race Ministries, Inc. She acknowledged hearing the word in church and using it at home in the context of the brief prayer before a meal. But, what does “grace” mean as a practical matter for an individual in the midst of racial animosity?

I began by stringing together a few of the often-heard standard definitions and explanations of the word grace:

• Grace is the unmerited favor of God.
• Grace and mercy go together as God’s action toward us.
• Grace is getting what you don’t deserve and mercy is not getting what you do deserve from God.
• Because we are God’s children, we strive to model God’s ways toward others.
• We have received grace and, therefore, must become agents of grace…

We will not all show grace in the same manner. There may not be many of us who are committed to turning the other cheek, as Jesus taught, when subjected to racist behavior. Some people may utter a prayer or give a look of disapproval and walk away- refusing to dignify the action and ignorance with a spoken reply. Some people may take a deep breath and then offer a response without the use of profane and inflammatory language. Other people may start justice movements to disrupt racism.  The options for grace are limited only by human frailties. But for Christian believers, showing grace to others is accepting the challenge to demonstrate a Christ-like response, even if the person does not deserve it. This does not negate the fact that there are times when we must push back and correct improper language and behavior but God gets the glory from our lives when we can respond to racial hate speech and actions without an “eye-for-an-eye” or “tooth-for-a-tooth” hostile mentality. It’s hard. But that’s grace from our mere mortal perspective.

On July 26, 2017 Michelle Obama made a speech including remarks about her experience as America’s first black first lady. She expressed her awareness of the reality “that after eight years of working really hard for this country, there are still people who won’t see me for what I am because of my skin color.” She referenced the numerous racist attacks and insults she faced while President Barack Obama was in office.

Remembering her life in that role reminded me of an easier, practical way to define grace, especially in the midst of racial animosity – “When they go low, we go high.” I offer heartfelt thanks to Michelle Obama for the profound wisdom in those words.

That is grace.

Confronting Racism in the Church with Drew Hart

Friday, 30 June 2017, 17:37 | Category : Event Registration, Events, Racial Justice
Tags :

by The Potter’s House, Soteria Community School

In his provocative book “Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism,” theologian and blogger Drew G. I. Hart places police brutality, mass incarceration, anti black stereotypes, poverty, and everyday acts of racism within the larger framework of white supremacy. On July 22nd, Drew will be at the Festival Center to guide attendees through the often difficult conversation of confronting racism within our own churches. Always leading toward Jesus, Hart will offered concrete practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice.

This will be a phenomenal event with practical advice for small group leaders who are hoping to facilitate conversation, clergy who are continuing this conversation within their congregations, and any community member who wants to know more about how they might be an active participant in confronting racism head on within their worshipping or living communities.

*Light refreshments will be served at this event, doors open at 12:30 pm.*

DATE AND TIME

Sat, July 22, 2017
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

LOCATION
Festival Center
1640 Columbia Road Northwest
Washington, DC 20009

REGISTER

Confronting Racism

Monday, 24 April 2017, 10:54 | Category : Ambassadors Call, Racial Justice, Teachable Moments, Words to Grow By
Tags :

God gave me the vision to establish Grace and Race Ministries, Inc. in 2008. The most frequent response I hear is “talking about racism is too hard.” But I know the most difficult conversation about race and racism is the one we never have.

This work must be personal. It starts with the word “I” and a look in the physical and spiritual mirror as we discover who we are and how we are called to live our lives. The work requires moments of introspection and moments of intentional engagement to grapple with the complexity of the race related issues that shape our ideas and experiences. We must be ready to press toward what Howard Thurman called “our growing edge.” Reflect with me on this meditation from one of his sermons, entitled “Confronting the Enemy.”

Golden indeed is it to welcome the return of the period of quiet in the midst of all by which we are surrounded; to have moments of solitariness in the midst of community, when we may dare to reveal ourselves to God. What great relief comes from being under no necessity to pretend anything, to have no awareness of the service that the alibi can give; but in the quietness to finger one by one the pieces that go to make up one’s life, to expose them to utter honesty and integrity before the scrutiny and the love of God. The weaknesses, the strength, the heartaches, the heart balms, the anxieties and the tranquilities, the good and the evil, the desires and ambitions and dreams and hopes, we finger them, we turn them over, one by one, before God.

This we do, our Father, seeking only the gift of Thy understanding, the trust of Thy love and the strength of Thy judgment.

 Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be inacceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.

Grace and Race will use this space to invite readers into “safe learning and sharing space” opportunities to read, write, listen, discuss and develop pathways toward becoming ambassadors and change agents for racial justice. We hope you will avail yourself of teachable moments “to finger one by one the pieces that make up one’s life…” as we are enlightened by and learn from one another. Watch this space for upcoming activities.

Blessings,

Brenda Girton-Mitchell

No Passive Reconciliation, Please

Monday, 6 February 2017, 20:55 | Category : Reconciliation Reflections
Tags :

Reverend J. Frederika Eaddy has written a bold and timely message to those who have the responsibility of preaching God’s Word. Sometimes out of the desire to get to the “Good News” we may fail to provide the emotional space  and practical application people need as they wrestle with their realities.  Preaching reconciliation is incomplete without acknowledging the necessity of  transformative actions.   As I read Rev. J’s words, I was convicted and challenged to exercise extraordinary care to meet people where they  are with the assurance that God’s love and grace will empower them on their journey for justice in their lives.

Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell

No Passive Reconciliation, Please

Rev. J. Frederika Eaddy

Over the last several months, I have listened to and watched many sermons. Many of those sermons have reminded me of my responsibility, as a Christian, to forgive. They have called me to declare victory; to remember that God is still on the throne; to rise above the hateful rhetoric; and, to place at the forefront my duty toward reconciliation.

With each news report about this administration’s harmful antics, the message is preached that much harder. And I’ve discovered that instead of bringing hope to its listeners, it reinforces a passive faith ideology. It tells you that whatever the situation, no matter how harmful or toxic, you should remain in it for this is God’s will and God will eventually rescue you. Not only should you remain in the harmful, toxic situation, you shouldn’t question why you are there because that demonstrates a lack of faith. And above all things, you should not make any attempt to remove yourself, because God must be trying to teach you something. You sir, you ma’am must be the bigger person.

This tactic is not a new one. We’ve seen it with the women and men who are told to return to and reconcile with their abusive spouses before the spouse has done any work to address their behavior. You saw it when the families of those killed by self-defined white supremacist, Dylan Roof, believe that the Christian thing to do is immediate forgiveness. You see it everyday someone is told to remain in a place where someone in authority has violated them as an example of their Christian witness. This type of reconciliation absolves you of any responsibility to initiate change and teaches you how to keep the peace rather than showing you how to be a peacemaker. After all, we aren’t called to keep the peace, which really means maintaining the status quo. We were called to be peacemakers, which requires uprooting injustice and creating an atmosphere where justice equity, mercy and love thrive.

And quite frankly, I am sick of it. So, let’s set the record straight. Calling victims to reconcile for the sake of reaching some political accommodation without addressing critical questions of injustice is not reconciliation at all. Reconciliation calls for an outing (or naming) of the injustice and then works to remove it at its root. Reconciliation requires the permanent laying down of power and privilege in order to restore (or establish) right and just relationships. Reconciliation calls for us to push back against the oversimplification of the demand for Christian love and forgiveness; a sort of “can’t we all just get along” rhetoric. Curtis Paul DeYoung reminds us, “Reconciliation is not appeasement, assimilation, a passive peace, a unity without cost, or maintaining power with only domestic changes”.

So preachers, don’t call me to reconciliation if you are also calling me to remain comfortable in my oppression. Don’t call me to reconciliation if you refuse to speak about the unjust systems under which we live. Don’t call me to reconciliation without also calling me to resist the empire and its ideologies of domination. Do not call me to reconciliation if you cannot acknowledge that Jesus came to set the oppressed free. Because if you do, it is clear that you are not calling for reconciliation, you are calling me to maintain the status quo. And it’s rather oxymoronic, isn’t it, to preach to me about a liberating Christ without encouraging me to really be free?

But this is not surprising, in the least. For religion has often been used to support the socio-economic status quo by teaching people how to adapt to the system, rather than empowering them to change it. Religion, at times, can be as oppressive as the systems it claims to be called to correct. So Reverend sir, Reverend ma’am, you can keep your sermons. I’d rather pray with my feet and show my faith in these streets. But when you are ready to talk about uprooting injustice and resistance as a part of reconciliation, let me know. I would love to join you in conversation.

Rev. J.Frederika Eaddy is the founder of I Just Believe Ministries and the author of Getting Naked to Get Free.

A Child Will Lead Them…

By Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell

I thought you might like this story from The Washington Post.

Ten-year-olds tackle ‘The Lie’ of demeaning stereotypes in powerful video
Elementary schoolchildren aim to counter the “lies” they hear about Muslims, African Americans, Latinos, Asians, girls: “I’m not a thief.” “I’m not a terrorist.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/ten-year-olds-tackle-the-lie-of-demeaning-stereotypes-in-powerful-video/2016/12/02/69b7e162-b02a-11e6-8616-52b15787add0_story.html

 

10-Year-Olds Tackle the Lies of Demeaning Stereotypes