My fingers have been tightly wound around the narrative I wrote for my own life, and God has been patiently uncurling my fingers, one by one. Dream bigger, He seems to say. Dream bigger, then bigger, then bigger. Now go.
I go, with sparkles in my eyes, and imagine myself stepping out into the wide world as a Joan of Arc. I want to be unafraid. I want to face those looking down on me, telling me I’m too young or inexperienced, too naive or out-of-touch, then surprise them with my wisdom. I want to stand my ground, confident in who I am and what I’m about, not shaken when the questioning starts or gaslighting makes my knees weak. I want to pick up my sword, my words, my voice, and fight for justice. I want to fight like God is behind me, working to save a nation, even when the sparkles are gone and all I’ve got left is a mess.
That being said, while Joan of Arc might not have had a Facebook account, I certainly do. And lately I’ve found myself doing what I’ve avoided for ages- engaging in the dreaded Facebook debate. Because somebody has to speak up, and sometimes that somebody is me.
In the process, I’ve discovered a handful of things that are starting to- for lack of a better phrase- piss me off.
Firstly, primarily, mostly, I am sick of people who call themselves Christian spending more time arguing about protecting police than listening to or caring about people who have been marginalized. I’m frustrated, even dumbfounded, that the need to become anti-racist has become less important than the need to maintain neat politically conservative borders. Digging those heels in over whether or not Black people deserve to be heard is NOT the place your feet should be planted.
I am sure, entirely sure, that Black people are more tired of this bizarre behavior than me. I offer my voice for those too weary to speak.
Here it is, most clearly: Your ‘blue lives matter’ flag waves proudly in false righteousness- you might think you are innocently supporting the force, but I’m here to tell you that your timing is off. You think it means nothing, the blue stickers and posts, but right now it sends the message that your priority is more for the police than for the people who the police have harmed. That support right now is inherently political and has the capacity to be significantly damaging. Sure, shifting the focus to blue lives might be appropriate on some days, but today is not that day.
Beyond that, if we keep spending our time debating and trying to disprove racism instead of actually demonstrating real, active care for the Black community, it will only serve to further ostracize that community from our Christian spaces. They are going to feel more unwelcome in a church they should comfortably call home because we were too busy fighting to hear their stories.
We don’t listen, and we harm them further. On top of the years wasted where they were unable to join orders, take vows, or attend seminary.
On top of the years they were, and continue to be, enslaved, taken advantage of, and neglected, while people of the Church look away.
On top of generations of artwork in cathedrals, museums, and homes that fail to depict the beauty of God reflected in dark-skinned faces.
On top of a disproportionately white canon of saints- not because saints of color didn’t exist, but because our Church has been complicit in a world of white supremacy.
All of this pain should be ringing in our ears, calling us to action, but black voices still cannot be heard because we have hidden in our prayer groups and Bible studies to complain about the “secret liberal agenda” and anti-racist “propaganda.” We’ve wasted time instead of listening and believing, acknowledging our failings and trying to do better. Defensiveness has become the last flag waving- it’s a big one, and it’s red.
At the very least, I will stand up. You will hear my voice- the voice of a Catholic. A Christian. A woman. White, weak, and flawed, but here. I am here and I will say, then say again, that Black lives matter. If you want to call yourself a Christian, a real one, it’s best you start acting like they do too, and start fighting like God is behind you.
St. Joan of Arc, pray for us.