— By Katie Greenwood —
I appreciate the space provided by the season of Lent and the events of Holy Week for hope to dialogue with despair, because both are inevitable elements in a life lived with awareness.
In reparations work, we acknowledge the overwhelming cruelty and injustice of our history. We proclaim our willingness to mourn and our refusal to despair. This is a very appropriate discipline for the season of Lent.
When we recognize the magnitude of suffering, theft, and trauma enacted upon enslaved people and people of color in America, it is clear that any current attempt at compensation for past wrongs will be symbolic at best.
Furthermore, we know the ongoing extraction of human and monetary capital from people of color is embedded in every level of our socioeconomic system, from a minimum wage that does not cover the cost of childcare to bail fees and prison labor.
Reparations work is work beyond the scale of individual human lives. If successful, any precedent established now will be later be marveled upon for its pithiness.
As in Jesus’s walk to Jerusalem and Calvary, our view of the narrative may end in the apparent failure of human-scale action to avert the forces of evil. But our hope is in the belief that the story does not end there, so long as we continue to remember and retell it.
Reparations work also includes comforting and encouraging each other when we are overwhelmed by the apparent failures of our historical moment. We have much to learn from our brothers and sisters of color in the practice of this discipline.
I wanted to share this simple meditation chant from the Christian community of Taize for the season of Lent. It echoes Jesus’s words to the disciples in Gethsemane:
Stay with me
Remain here with me
Watch and pray
Watch and pray
May we learn to stay with leaders from Linnentown and others in their work for reparations. In so doing, we will become a more truly inclusive church, and more compelling and accurate in the retelling of Jesus’s story.