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Acknowledge the Ashes

Dear Collective Co., 

This letter is long overdue, but in the words of Drake, “Better late than never…”. I’ve cried over humanity more during these past five months than usual. Yeah, I’m an emotional guy, sure, but this is on some other stuff. The top reason I’ve found myself in tears is the reality of racism that still exists in our country. The depths of this evil hides behind the mask of a dominant culture, which itself hides behind ignorance, contentment, and even celebration. I’m not here to point fingers. Trust me, I’ve been trapped in this culture for far too long—but now, I want out. Our leadership team here at Collective has started reading Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrison. I want to share a quote that hit me hard and then share three ways to become anti-racist, starting today. Latasha Morrison writes,

Jesus can make beauty from ashes, but the family of God must first see and acknowledge the ashes.

In light of this, here are the three steps to take in becoming anti-racist. Step One: Seek the Truth I found myself saying just a few weeks ago, I feel lied to. As if my entire upbringing and education failed to point out what our black brothers and sisters went through—truly. Not the watered down, whitewashed version. I mean the brutal reality that tells stories of individuals who have been bruised, beaten, crushed, and killed on the basis of their ‘less than-ness.’ Stories like Mary Turner and her soon to be born child, who both were brutally and innocently murdered. Mary Turner isn’t in lonely company. Over 4,440 African American men, women, and children were hanged, burned alive, shot, drowned, and beaten to death by mobs between 1877 and 1950. That doesn’t even begin to cover the number of people sentenced to prison innocently, locked out of housing because of the identity of felon lingering over their head, and those gasping for air with a knee to their throat uttering the words, I can’t breathe. Stop hiding. Stop lying. Seek the truth. Step Two: Lament Latasha defines lamenting as, expressing sorrow or regret. This is critical in order to “do something about it.” How are we to do anything if we don’t first feel the depths of the pain? What will carry the narrative if not built on the foundation of empathy and compassion? We must lower ourselves down into the hurt, into the stories, into the scars, and into the still open wounds. Soong-Chan Rah writes in his book, Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times, “The American church avoids lament. The power of lament is minimized and the underlying narrative of suffering that requires lament is lost. But absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. Absence makes the heart forget.” Seek the truth and Lament. Step Three: Repeat Yes. Do it again, and again. Keep seeking the truth. Keep asking hard questions. Keep digging into yourself. Keep lamenting over the reality that our black brothers and sisters have experienced hurt and pain and silence for too long—and stay there. Let the pain produce passion and a passion that is sustainable. A passion that doesn’t fizzle, but one that carries us forward into a new day where our brothers and sisters are safe, cared for, protected, advocated for, and deeply loved. May our finger be on the Truth, another on the broken, and another touching the heart, all while pointing to Jesus.

all for Love, Corey Garrity

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