Howard Thurman provides us keen insights for taking personal responsibility and opportunities to combat racism. His analysis of hate beginning in situations of no contact and no sympathetic understanding focuses on the crisis of alienation. After becoming aware of who are our neighbors, we are faced with the question: How do we bridge the gap of alienation with our neighbors?
The opportunities to end racial alienation are available. Sometimes the opportunity involves volunteering for a community service program where people of a different race are present. Some of these people may be recipients of services to develop literacy skills,or exercise, or to cultivate home maintenance skills. Others who bring racial diversity into your life may be staff or volunteers themselves. Most important is the realization that bridging the racial divide is more than showing up and providing service. What is needed is the commitment to give sufficient time to cultivate and sustain relationships, as Thurman says, of “sympathetic understanding.” The heart given in vulnerability, trust, and caring must accompany whatever energies are spent to complete projects.
When the heart is offered in this way, presence with one another is not characterized by a server/recipient relationship. Instead, a mutual exchange of gifts occurs as the depths of hearts are offered and experienced.
From “Living Into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America” by Catherine Meeks – Morehouse Publishing