I had arrived at Urban Project a week late not truly knowing what to expect when I was going to arrive. I was going to a place where I felt called to be but also knowing that I was going to have to open up to people who already knew each other and had established relationships. About an hour before I was supposed to leave for Urban Project, I felt this overwhelming sense of anger and annoyance that I was even going. I knew I would be learning about important social issues prevalent in society, but my need to learn about these issues didn’t feel as enough of a reason to go. I didn’t know what was going on inside of me but I forced myself to attend and be as open as I could. Once I got there, it wasn’t easy getting into the swing of things. I’m not the most social person so it took time for me to get to know the people and in doing so, I had to push myself to open up to many pressing issues facing American society today.
We started talking about racial tension and these talks became so deep and vulnerable that my first instinct was to crawl back into my shell and peace out. Though I figured that there would be no change, no understanding of my African American experience received by my white brothers and sisters in this country if I didn’t share my experience. In order to create change and healing, these wounds need to be mended and cleaned out to heal correctly. This healing process requires pain, both from whites and blacks. For whites to bear the guilt of what other whites had done to blacks and for blacks to relive and open our pain up to others.
We had watched the movie, 13th on Netflix the other day and I had never seen it before. The stone-cold truths I witnessed in this film were disturbing, saddening, shocking, and extremely manipulative. In this film, the director depicted the inhumane flaws of the American system that blacks suffer from. The injustice overflowed throughout this film and wreaked havoc on me spiritually, mentally, and physically. As discussion of 13th was opened up to my Urban Project family, I felt inclined to speak. My truth to my family was that I didn’t know half of the facts that were stated and shown in 13th. I am a black woman and with that being said, I am ashamed to say this but I am guilty of buying in to the depiction of blacks being dangerous and monstrous. The leaders of America wanted blacks to appear as criminals to society through the media and I shamefully ate it up. There are still educational aspects of this black narrative that I am lacking. Even though I have felt the burden of being a black female, I have not suffered through incarceration and many more consequences for being black. With that being said, I never wanted to feel the pain of seeing injustice in the news, so I had usually looked the other way. There are white people who know less than I do and will never understand the struggle that blacks face, but my main message to share is that we need to educate ourselves and immerse ourselves in this topic. Just as Jesus immersed himself in the lives of sinners and the broken, we are also called to do just that. With those of us who are broken and spiritually disconnected to one another, we have to take the time to tend to our wounds with care and with a plan to heal the disconnect. The first step is to learn, the second step is to apply this knowledge throughout our life experiences. Figuring out ways to comprehend the depth of this problem and talk with one another about solutions and take action. My dad always said, “If we can raise the tide high enough, all the boats will be able to float.” Only as a community can we heal and become one.
Jessica - University of Missouri