Juneteenth Reflections

Juneteenth Reflections

Reflections on the Anniversary of George Floyd’s Death

By Heidi Thomas, Co-Chair of Courageous Ground Task Force

If you’re a mom, you know how it is. No matter what child calls out for their mother, your instinct is to respond, even if it’s a stranger’s child in the grocery store. A year ago, I heard a man cry out for his mother as the life was choked out of him with depraved indifference by someone sworn to protect and serve. In the moment that I heard him say “mama”, years of plaque and hardened defense that had been subconsciously formed around my heart was fractured open.

Make no mistake, I have had many good people who’ve with understandable impatience tried to show me how some of my attitudes about race were inconsistent with my character and my faith. I had already started to chip at the corners of those things. Though that wall had been showing some signs of softening and cracks allowed slivers of light in, where those patches were
open tingled and were vaguely pained. However, the complete exposure of every raw nerve upon hearing the word “mama” was as mentally and emotionally excruciating as giving birth had been.

In the time since, I’ve learned a great deal about better ways to approach racism and different points of view and attitudes that were difficult for my crusty heart to tolerate. My new, open heart, once too sensitive to tolerate many of these ideas, may forever bear some scars of my past thinking but is now becoming healthier and better able to love others in a truer and more active way. I’ve learned so much more once I stopped resisting the ideas out of shame and intolerance for the changes I would have to make. I have joined with others to find ways to make
communities I belong to more inclusive and to find ways to celebrate diversity. I have sought ways to help others deal with their hardened hearts by leading discussions in my community and eventually became a racial awareness trainer in the Diocese. I’ve found opportunities to give support financially and politically for equity and reparations causes.

As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, we must recognize that the freedom promised by emancipation has not yet been fully realized. I encourage you to consider courageously your personal thoughts and beliefs around race. Consider how your own personal experience and your place in society will have shaped your viewpoint. Be open to the ways in which the dominant culture will subconsciously influence your beliefs, not only through stereotypes but through subtle biases in language, aesthetics, etc.

For “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. (Proverbs 23:7)