Greetings WAC Community,
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor or the alien.” – Leviticus 23:22
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.” – Matthew 25:35
This past week I attended planning meetings of the Equality State Policy Center (ESPC) in Saratoga and the Undoing Racism workshop where the topic was discussed about constituents. At the ESPC meetings we talked about how our more than 30 member groups’ interests intersected. For the labor groups, workers are the constituents. For environmental groups, constituents include wildlife. For justice groups, it includes equality for those left out and behind. Because our constituents all live in Wyoming, obviously our interests intersect.
At the two-day Undoing Racism workshop, we discussed the impact of institutions on communities of black and brown people. As we processed information, the word constituents came up again. Clarity hit me like a bolt of lightning about who are our constituents. The churches’ constituents are those without power! We sometimes view our congregations as the constituents, but they clearly are not. Congregations are cogs in the institutions. Scripture is clear. People of faith are to work for justice to meet the needs of the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers and the prisoners. Our constituents are not those sitting in the pews; they are homeless people, those torn from their families to be deported, those sick and without affordable health insurance and those in jail and prison. Wherever there is injustice, there also are our constituents, many there because of institutional racism.
An image and memory came to me as I personally processed this. When I was a freshman in college, more than 50 years ago, I drew a picture of racism. I portrayed two runners at the starting line of a race, one white and one with dark skin. Unlike the white runner, the one with dark skin had a ball and chain around his ankle. Within our institutions where internalized racism still exists, how has that picture changed in the last 50 years? Our efforts have been primarily to help people of color to overcome or ease the burden of color, like putting a skate board under the ball or providing a backpack in which to carry it. Some justice may come in that. But the real justice would be to remove the ball and chain.
Someone at church this morning shared about a friend who adopted a 5-year-old dog that had been kept in a cage in a laboratory for research all of its life. The dog now has difficulty walking very far and will collapse in the middle of a street exhausted. The dog needs encouragement and exercise to build up its muscles. Anyone who has been prevented from living a full life needs similar support. Carrying a heavier burden can make us stronger, but not until the chain is cut or the cage door opened, can recovery be complete.
Thanks go to the Wesley Foundation in Laramie for the first load of blankets brought to the Wind River Reservation this past week to help families prepare for winter. If you would like to get involved in the blanket drive, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks go to those putting the final touches on our plans for our annual meeting. Thursday evening, October 19th begins with a beautiful interfaith worship. Register now at www.wyochurches.org. Also let Judy know about silent auction items for October 20th that you can donate at email@example.com.
Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.