How Racism is Built Into Our Structures
I thought I could spot racism when I saw it. I’ve seen the hurt inflicted upon a friend when they hear a racial slur. I’ve seen hatred. I’ve even seen brutality. But that doesn’t mean I can always spot racism.
My dad was a member at a church in the North Georgia area that had an historic sanctuary. It predated the civil war and had some maintenance that needed to be done on the flooring where the congregation sat. It seemed like over time the floor started to buckle and would need some repair. Upon further inspection the contractor who was going to do the work asked about the columns in the center of the church. At first look, they seemed decorative but after a bit of history was uncovered, they found out that those columns used to be part of a dividing wall inside the sanctuary. White people could sit in front of the wall. Slaves were to sit behind the wall. After the Civil War when the freed slaves wanted to worship, the church gave them some property to build their own church around the corner. Having no purpose for the wall anymore, they took it down to open up seating but kept the columns because they looked pretty. Over time as the church structure settled, the columns caused the floor and ceiling to shift so that the church was in danger of crumbling off its foundation. No one saw it.
This is a tangible example of system racism. The structures that were put in place to divide us run deep. They leave a mark. And sometimes we aren’t even aware of the damage they do. Fixing it takes time. It can be costly. But not fixing it will cause us to slip off our foundations.
Love your neighbor. All neighbors. Speak up when you see injustice. Have conversations about how we can do better. Every person has sacred worth. Let’s build a world that shows this is true.
Until Everyone Hears,
Shannon, I understand that an historic church her in Tallahassee, FL still has the rings for shackles in the balcony where slaves used to sit. I my admit I'm torn. Should they be removed. Or should they stay as a reminder of that time & how horribly we treated others in that period of history…. As a reminder of how much better we must be.
Speaking up, conversations about doing better… Love your neighbor, unless they ask too many questions