Take Action; Don't Wait
Guest writer Micha Sampson sojourned to Wild Goose 2016 with the Galileo group — most of whom she didn’t know well or at all. Nothing like tent-camping to get to know your church. Here’s her one big take-away from the festival.
I attended the Racial Justice Seminar on Thursday before the festival and spent most of my time at the festival attending various discussions on social justice issues (subjects ranging from feminist activism in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, to queer inclusion and reconciliation in the church, to how to be a revolutionary ally in matters of racial justice, and many others in between). Intersectionality was emphasized over and over throughout.
Learning of the murders of Alton Sterling followed by Philando Castile in the wake of these experiences was deeply unsettling for me, particularly that of Philando Castile. I had a visceral response to this news and could hardly contain myself. Anger. Sadness. But mostly…fear.
My thoughts immediately went to my teenage cousin, B—, a wonderful young man who will soon be 16. He also happens to be bi-racial. He and his sister are being raised by my aunt and uncle, who love them very much but still maintain less than progressive ideas about why events like these occur over and over in society, which means they are never going to have “the talk” that parents of color typically have with their teen children.
My mom and I have spent a lot of time with B— and his sister over the years; and B— and I have developed a special bond. Because of that, I have been preparing to have that talk with him myself since the murder of Trayvon Martin nearly four years ago. I’ve wrestled with what to say, the delicacy of how to say it, and the appropriateness of me being the one to say it. Despite my many doubts and concerns, I always come back to this one thing…his safety overrides any discomfort on my part or resentment on his grandparents’ part. I’ve known this for a long time, but have been waiting for the “right time” (and the right words). Thankfully, I received some much needed guidance and affirmation from racial justice leader Micky ScottBey Jones, who agreed it’s definitely time.
My big take-away from Wild Goose? We must take action. I must take action. It is not enough to bemoan the system that allows people of color to be unfairly searched, imprisoned and killed without consequence. It is not enough to say we want change. We must actively work to dismantle the racist system that makes these injustices possible. It won’t be easy and it won’t be comfortable. If we truly want to change the system, then we must be willing to risk and deny our own comfort, privilege and power by speaking out against injustice and racism in all its forms and surrendering positions of power to people of color, women, etc. More than anything, I left Wild Goose knowing I can’t sit on the sidelines while injustice continues.