…and Justice for All

When you see me, who do you see? A Black face?

Someone who evokes rage or fright,

Undeserving mercy, grace?

 

When you see me, who do you see? Blind and white

and deaf; loath to step into shoes

of your pain, color, grief or plight?

 

When you see me, when will you see that I am

a child of God blessed by the Lamb?

ruby_bridges_w_marshals

I have been rocked back and forth this year by the violence in our country over race relations and a serious lack of understanding, grace and communication between us all. To be frank, it reminds me of another decade.

In the 1960s we faced a country horribly divided by racial tension. We watched in revulsion scenes on our televisions of federal marshals escorting young, black children into white schools for the first time while being spat upon by angry white housewives.

We saw Black folks being attacked by dogs and fire houses, arrested for sitting at a lunch counter, and heard about the murders of three young civil rights workers. And at the end of 1964, the first Civil Rights Acts passed, which outlawed discrimination in voting and segregation in schools, at work and in places that served the public.

In 1968 we watched the Freedom March – a five-day walk from Montgomery to Selma, Alabama where thousands of non-violent demonstrators of all races faiths walked to the steps of the capitol building. State troopers attacked the unarmed marchers with tear gas and billy clubs. We mourned the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and two months later of Bobby Kennedy. The second Civil Rights Act was passed which outlawed discrimination in housing.

I cannot, even now, get those images out of my mind when I see Black men shot down by police or when I view disturbing videos of police officers clearly out of control. And I don’t understand if just and righteous police officers can wound and capture a terrorist in New Jersey, why it’s not possible, with 3-5 officers present, arrest a man of color without a fatality – particularly those who are unarmed, who have their hands in the air or who are already on the ground.

We need the courage to have public discussions because this is not about one man or woman – a possible offender or a survivor of racism or a police officer. It is about our justice system which does not apply the same justice toward all.

lilkaI reached out to my friend Lilka Raphael, a sister in Christ, to ask if she would engage in this discussion with me. Because while I can sympathize and step into her pain and frustration for moments in time, she lives it every day. Because Lilka is a Black woman with a Black husband and two sons for whom she worries each time they walk out the door. And she said, “Yes.”

 

So beginning next Friday, Lilka and I will begin to write letters to each other, begin to ask and answer questions, begin to talk openly about our own perspectives, our responses, and our hope. Because we each derive hope through Christ, and we each see all our brothers and sisters as clay molded in love by our gracious Creator.

We pray you will look forward to our letters, read them, and engage with us in conversation to create healing and reconciliation in this online community and in your own communities.

In love and prayer,

Susan Irene Fox and Lilka Raphael

17 comments

  1. […] week, someone commented on the introduction that preceded our letters, “I can’t understand where these turmoils (sic) come […]

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  2. […] week, someone commented on the introduction that preceded our letters, “I can’t understand where these turmoils (sic) come […]

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  3. I love that you are doing this Susan, I live in the community of Lancaster, CA where just a week ago a Police Sergeant was gunned down right around the corner from my own home. I was shocked , angered and more than anything frustrated that there is no One-Side of looking at things.I’m hispanic and have seen discrimination in my own life and yet my mind was brought back to the story of Cain and Abel, we are fighting the same battles even now. I kept asking the question..is humanity just inherently evil, Capability of doing anything? I still can’t tackle the racial discrimination issue because to me, this is a humanity issue.

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    1. You’re right on so many fronts, Amy. It is a racial issue, a ‘brother’s keeper’ issue, and a humanity issue. And what comes up for many is shock, frustration and anger. That’s why it’s so important we begin to talk with each other, look into each others’ eyes, see the humanity and hurt in each other and then begin to listen.

      I hope you’ll add your comments to this important conversation, Amy, and listen as all of us need to listen. So glad to have you on board. I know your love for the Lord will bless us all. ❤

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    2. Amy, thanks for adding your voice to this dialogue. I don’t believe people are inherently evil, those representing the very worst in humanity just make it to the headlines. I definitely agree there is no one side of any of this. That officer’s death is no less heinous than civilians dying at the hands of officers. Racism is a very ugly wound that our country has merely put a band aid over when it really needs to be lanced, drained and treated. Sometimes those hard but true conversations are the only thing that will bring about healing. I look forward to your input as we continue the dialogue.

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  4. I am so glad you have written about this. I have been sick, literally sick, and getting sicker about what is going on and the direction we seem to be heading. Perhaps it will get better on November 9. In the interim, this is such a wonderful idea and I look forward to reading and learning from you both. ❤

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    1. I know your heart, Beth, and I hope you join the conversation. I think you will have a lot to add. We simply couldn’t stay silent any longer and yearned for an outlet. The Spirit led us together at a time we needed to hear each other.

      Thank you for your encouragement. ❤

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    2. Beth, I’m so glad you are open to the conversation. Topics such as these tend to make people shy away because they are hard. Hard to face and often it is hard to hear when we attempt to listen with a closed mind. This past year the fabric of our nation has been ripped apart with such blatant fear and division again and again, headline after headline. Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away. Thanks for coming to the table.

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  5. May the Lord be with you and Liitka s you correspond back and forth. It sounds like a good exercise, and hopefully will produce some interesting blogs down the rod.

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    1. It is more than a good exercise, Pete – we will be speaking love and truth from our hearts and praying to engage others in grace-filled communication here and in their own life circles. It is imperative if we intend to live with each other in love and grace and see each other through the eyes of God.

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      1. A worthy pursuit and one we should all engage in. We tend to judge by what we see and hear instead of looking at the heart like God does.

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      2. Amen to that, Pete. I look forward to your participation! 🙂

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      3. Thanks Susan

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    2. Thanks for the encouragement Pete. We will judge others by what we see when we accept common labels placed on people instead of viewing them through the Spirit. Thanks for accepting the invitation to find common ground and listen to another perspective.

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  6. what a wonderful post, susan –

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    1. Thank you. With everything going on, we can’t forget what is important – unity, forgiveness, reconciliation.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. […] Susan Irene Fox and Lilka Raphael […]

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