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Pastor's Blog

  • Writer's pictureDenice Stradling

His Hand in His Pocket--Catalyst for My Racial Equity Journey

Something happened to me when I saw the photo of Derek Shauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck. It wasn’t just the photograph, which was horrifying enough. It was when I saw his hand nonchalantly in his pocket, as if waiting for a bus, a taxi.

It was inconceivable to me that this could be happening, that a police offer, sworn to protect and serve, could take this action: kneel on a man’s neck until he was dead. And somewhere bound up in that unbelief, was a sense of helplessness. And maybe a sense of complicity, if only because I had been so clueless.

So when the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge sprang from the Wellness Group at St. Matt’s, I felt like it was SOMETHING I could do.

For 21 days, I read articles, watched films, listened to podcasts, and wept. So much I had been ignorant of! I listened to a podcast on “On Being,” with Eula Biss (Episode 813) – “Talking About Whiteness.” It was the first time I really ever considered what the term ‘white privilege’ meant, and how it was part of my social DNA, without my even knowing it. I watched “The Hate You Give.” Walking down the street with my best friend, and watching that friend get killed by police would never happen to me in this lifetime; I knew that. I’m reading a book now, STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING, by Ibram X. Kendi, with a subtitle: “The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.” I’m barely into it, but it, too, is opening my eyes to how racial injustice has been embedded in our country from the beginning.

I want to keep learning, growing – in compassion, in understanding, and in tenacity where racial injustice is present. That’s why I wanted to be part of St. Matt’s Racial Equity Group. “I once was blind, but now I see.” Dramatic, I know, but for me personally, it rings true. And, as Pastor Stephanie has said, it’s never too late.


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