The topic that I've been avoiding and avoiding and God has been bringing up over and over to me is racism. I have been running to the hills trying to get out of this one. I'm from Utah, one of the most predominantly white places in the country, and I can tell you after visiting home last week that no one's conversational topic of choice up in Utah is racism. Injustice doesn't really become anyone's topic of choice until it happens to them and they're fed up with it.
I really didn't want to get my foot in my mouth with such an intense topic, mostly because I felt like at first there was no reason for me to. I'm a little white girl. I've never in my life been afraid in any circumstance because of the color of my skin. I've never been harassed by the police. I've never been afraid to get pulled over. I've never been afraid to be in contact with law enforcement. The history of my ancestors is very different. I have no parents or grandparents who were beat or brutalized or harassed or were afraid for their lives during the civil rights movement that happened only 60 years ago. When Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, I didn't care to read or listen or watch or educate myself. I thought I had nothing to do with it and I frankly didn't care. But now, I live around and work with and am friends with people who are directly affected by what is happening in our country now, and they've reminded me that I am involved. Me not caring, is me being involved. Me denying that racism exists is me being involved. Me denying my privilege is me being involved. Me not asking black people or other people of color what they feel and are afraid of is me being involved. And all of that is toxic. It's destructive and toxic and is what is tearing apart the church today that so greatly needs more than ever to be united.
As I said, I've never really ever been afraid because of the color of my skin, so I can't at all understand being on the oppressed side of racism. I don't get that. But God is reminding me over and over that I have experienced being on the other side of privilege because of my gender. I can feel a tip of the iceberg of what it feels to have people claim that the thing you're most afraid of in your life, doesn't exist. My story is a story of sexual abuse and assault. I have heard over and over, not only from Christians, but even other victims, that the issue isn't even real in my life. I've experienced victim shaming and people have explained to me for hours and hours why it's my fault. People deny altogether that rape culture exists. It's not a real issue to them. Some people get uncomfortable about it, and they don't want to talk about it. They don't care at all to educate themselves, and they really don't care about the issue to begin with. Some people do care, but they don't understand it. Some people don't think it affects them at all because they're not a victim. Many, many, many people in my life, and in the lives of other victims of sexual abuse, take the side of the abuser because they're friends. Injustice and crime and a federal offense doesn't matter to them. God has used that deep set pain in my life to help me emphasize with the people who experience racial prejudice. In every situation, you need to listen to both sides. You need to listen to the victims. You need to hear the cries and heart-breaks of the people who are broken and who have been sinned against, and you need to validate them. You need to stand up for what is right. You need to speak the truth to whatever crowd you stand in front of.
The people who I've spoken to that have a hard time with or are strongly against Black Lives Matter, are against it because they don't understand it, they misunderstand it, they've seen racism or hatred come from people that say they are a part of the movement, or they are afraid that it takes away the validation from the Blue Lives Matter movement. This is what I know: Blue lives do matter. There are police officers who fight for our safety every day. They sacrifice their time and they serve the people faithfully. Many law enforcement officers are under the microscope and are criticized heavily for every move they make. Some officers sacrifice their lives. Some police officers are incredible people who have intentions to protect and serve. Some police officers have brutalized people. Most of the people who have been brutalized by those police officers are black or of color. Innocent black people have been shot by police officers. Innocent black people have been harassed by police officers. 60 years ago, black people were being beaten in the streets by police officers. I know black lives do matter. There are activists for Black Lives Matter that stand up for what they believe because they stand up for justice. They are tired of being pushed aside. They are tired of being afraid. They are doing what God has called them to do. They are doing the work of God and His church. There are also Black Lives Matter activists who have physically and verbally abused cops. Some have threatened and said horrible, disgusting things about police. Some have fed fear with racism. What I know is that you can't generalize any group of people. You have to take the time to understand. You have to educate yourselves. And you cannot say to one part of the hurting church that they are on their own. Even if you don't agree, even if politically or personally you feel strongly one way or the other, you are called as a Christian by God Himself to be there, as you responsibility as a member of the body of Christ. You can't say bye, peace out, because you don't like what they feel or have to say. You can't decide which part of justice you would like to stand up for. You are called to stand for it all. I don't know the answers, I don't know how to do this, I know a lot of people disagree, and no one likes these conversations. But I also know that I can't ignore injustice, because I refuse to be the person that people were and continue to be to me. I've heard too many times that it doesn't matter, and I will not be the person that walks away from the people who are hurting because I don't want to hurt in the way I was hurt. You have to say this stops here.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
KYLE LOVES TORI PHOTOGRAPHY