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Sandy’s Story

More than Words: Seeking Jesus and Justice

My husband and I are regular attenders and giving partners at CPC, but we had never been involved in a small group or Bible study until we participated in a Be the Bridge discussion group this summer. When I retired two years ago, I wanted to give myself a year to sort out what retirement looked like. Then last year I got involved with tutoring immigrants and refugees in Minneapolis, and I also decided to join the CPC choir. I don’t have that strong personal relationship with God that others in choir seem to speak about—or I don’t recognize it yet—but what happened to George Floyd really shook me to my core and made me pay more attention to what Jesus actually taught. I wanted to be more active and inquisitive in trying to understand my faith and how it intertwines with social justice at a deep level. If you look at Jesus’ life and words, He paid attention to the lowly, to the have-nots, to the left out. Time and time again. That model of standing up for people who can’t speak up for themselves, to include everybody in His grace, is so clear.

When the news about George Floyd first broke, I realized I couldn’t just sit at home and say I’m a Christian and say I’m not racist. Words weren’t enough. I wanted to DO something, in some small or big way, to help make change. That’s what I think Jesus would want. I didn’t know what it was I could do, but then the email came from CPC, and the Be the Bridge discussion groups really interested me. My husband also wanted to participate. I was just really thrilled that there was something on this issue that we could do together alongside others from our church.

I learned a lot about myself during Be the Bridge 101. I thought I knew a lot, but I realized I have a lot more to learn about systemic racism. It was helpful to challenge beliefs I didn’t even know I had. Learning about white fragility was new to me, and I’m much more aware now of my white privilege and understand it in a deeper way. This fall, I’ve been taking walks every morning and exploring new neighborhoods. I don’t even think twice about doing it—but in the last few days, it’s really hit me that I might not be doing this if I were Black. I would probably be concerned that I might be asked why I’m walking around here. I think the inequality of that is important to recognize. I don’t know what to do with it yet, other than I’m still raising my own awareness, attempting to understand the day-to-day impact of the system on people of color.

The curriculum and discussions with my group led me to really understand on a deep level the difference between individual acts of racism and systemic racism, and what my role as a White person could be as I work for change. For me, that’s meant getting involved in some local groups and attending racial equity webinars. I’ve done a lot more listening and a lot less talking, which is different for me! In hearing different perspectives of what it’s like to be a person of color in America, I’ve realized this is a really complex, exhausting, daily experience for them. More often than not, they say it’s not worth confronting things. With my white privilege, I experience none of that. If I were experiencing this every day I stepped outside, every day at work, I’d probably pick my battles, too.

I’m trying to pay attention to microaggressions, as well. I live in a pretty lily-white new development in Chaska, and an East Indian family recently moved into our cul-de-sac. I noticed that the other families would get together in the cul-de-sac, but this East Indian family didn’t seem to get invited. That bothered me. I don’t know if it was intentional, but I think if you were that family, it would be hard not to conclude that being a family of color was the reason. So my husband and I went over and we invited them. It’s little things like that that I need to keep doing if I’m really trying to live out my faith as a follower of Jesus.

I definitely feel that I’m on the beginning of a journey, and I don’t know where that journey is going to lead. I feel like the film’s been removed from my eyes, and I can more clearly see who Jesus is—and I’ve realized I need to be more actively involved in combatting racism as a follower of Jesus. Speaking out. Not being afraid to step on a few toes. I believe we all should consider what we can do both within our own hearts and outside ourselves to serve Christ and to promote a more just world.