“I always thought 2020 was going to be a hopeful year… Then I was dreadfully wrong… Then, perhaps, I was right.” – Judy Schindler
For the past 18 years I had high hopes for the year 2020. Since the day my youngest child entered kindergarten, I would daydream about his graduating high school in the year 2020. I thought “20/20 connotes perfect vision” and dreamt of our world having great clarity that year.
Yet as 2020 came into existence, the worst year of so many of our lives seemed to be unfolding. COVID-19 began to spread — stealing 100,000 lives in our country, devastating families, leaving so many elderly isolated, casting tens of millions into unemployment, and impoverishing even more greatly those who were already struggling. This was not the 2020 I anticipated.
Just when we thought things could not be worse, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and then George Floyd were murdered, and protests spread throughout our country. We saw images on our newsfeeds of city after city with cars and buildings aflame, and police in riot gear shooting tear gas attempting to bring control. Even my own clergy colleagues, who were peacefully demonstrating, were tear gassed on Charlotte’s streets.
Yet over the past three days things have begun to turn. Perhaps, 2020 will be a year of hope and clarity of vision after all.
Take a look at our world. There are global protests against racism.
Thousands are marching in big cities – from Seattle to New York. Hundreds are marching in small towns. The protests are global: from Athens to Berlin, from London to Nairobi. All are standing in solidarity against injustice aimed at the Black community.
The Mayor of Washington had a two block “Black Lives Matter” mural painted on the street leading to the White House. Minneapolis City Council just declared that they they will end the Minneapolis Police Department and create a transformative model of public safety.
We are entering the third leg of the American journey toward racial justice and we can make great strides if we stay focused.
Leg one – the abolition of slavery and the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution
Leg two – the abolition of Jim Crow Laws and the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.
Leg three – the mass awakening to the systems of racism in America and a broad movement toward dismantling them. Our era doesn’t yet have a name, but you can help to craft it. It doesn’t yet have associated legislation, but you can help to write it.
We need to methodically dismantle the systems and structures of racism in health care, in criminal justice, in education, in housing and land ownership, in business, in mental health (as we work to heal the historical and generational trauma that our African American neighbors have experienced), and more.
Here’s how you can do your part in this modern day 2020 movement toward racial justice:
If you are white:
- Educate yourself so that you can teach your neighbors and friends what systemic racism is (Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance are a good starting point.) Get comfortable with and be able to articulate in your own words these concepts: systemic racism, white supremacy, decolonizing wealth, and dismantling racism.
- Expand to include people of color in your circle of friends, of businesses you support, of non-profits to which you give time and money, and of those for whom you advocate and show the deepest levels of love and concern.
- Advocate to dismantle racism and support it with your resources of time and money. If you live in Charlotte, please join us in the work of restorative justice in our city (restorativejusticeclt.org and stangreensoncenter.org).
- Sign this Restorative Justice CLT Call to Action [Click here] .
Could 2020 be a hopeful year after all? Could 2020 be the year we have 20/20 vision and see clearly the systems of racism upon which our country has been built and work to dismantle it?
With your help, it will be