Sankofa - Part II
God has a way of matching us up with just the right people.
My partner on the Sankofa journey was David. He is Puerto Rican and was raised in New York City. He currently lives in upstate NY with his wife and kids. I admire David for a number of reasons one of which is, despite have 4 kids of his own, also has 4 foster children living with him. David was just the right partner for me.
I was ready to be angry. As I imagined the trip prior to the bus ride, I imagined being angry with my partner. I imagined sitting next to someone of a different race than me and listening to their stories and being angry with them because of it. I though I'd get good accolades for being angry and not making excuses or questioning perceptions. David had a story.
Long story short, his son reacted badly to a flu shot. The side effects showed up like bruises on his son's torso. The school nurse (because it's her job) checked in to it. Another doctor called Child Protective Services. I think they had to go to court. They almost had their kids taken away from him. My response was to get angry. "This would not have happened to me!" I thought. I was ready for David to get angry.
David did not get angry.
His view was that the doctor was only trying to protect his son. From his perspective, it may not have happened like that to a white family. The doctor may have taken more time to listen, but David did not want to get stuck in the past. In fact, that was his perspective on the whole trip. His hesitation on the trip was not "I can't possibly learn anymore" but "I don't want to have to think badly about people" and "I don't want to get stuck in the past."
David's perspective was rooted in the gospel. He believes that God calls us to love one another. He believes that a large part of love is forgiveness. Yes, he thinks racism is sin. Yes, he experiences racism in his daily life. But, no, he will not be angry (at least he won't stay that way for long). He wants to move forward toward what God calls us to.
I have to admit that anger can be paralyzing or self-justifying or something like that. Sometimes anger is enough for people. I may not be advocating for justice. I may not be trying to build new relationships or reconciling with my neighbor, but at least I'm angry about it. Of course, that gets us no where.
So, thanks to David, I leave Sankofa trying to not get stuck in anger or let anger be enough when it comes to justice and reconciliation. I've learned a new song recently. The title is "Inspired by Love and Anger." I want to let my anger inspire me to move forward toward God's kingdom of justice and reconciliation.