Zeph Daily 56

Morning Zephyrs! Thursday means it’s Julie again. What was your favourite childhood book? This was mine – I used to make my mum read it to me over and over and over…

No photo description available.

I loved Heidi. I went through a phase of wearing my hair in two pigtails when I was about six, and I think it was because I wanted to look like the illustration of her. I loved her because she resonated with me. She was just a little girl, with a fairly small number of loved ones, but she made the world a better place for everyone she met. I both identified with and was inspired by her.

Representation is important. I loved Heidi because she was like me. From being very small, I wanted to be a writer – and my bookshelves were full of books written by women. Enid Blyton, Michelle Magorian, Jill Murphy – and as I grew older, Jane Austen, the Brontes, and Margaret Atwood. If you can see it, it makes it more possible to become it.

On Tuesday, Zephaniah joined the quieting of social media to stand with those mourning the killing of George Floyd, to listen, and to call for an end to racism. Like many of us, I’ve been seeking out black voices outside my usual echo chamber in a small effort to address my own ignorance, and it is enlightening. There is still such a long way to go…

Also on Tuesday, I looked up the new history assignment that’s been set by one of my daughter’s schools as remote learning. She has to choose a 20th-century mover and shaker and prepare a project on them, making a case for why she thinks they qualify. There were lesson plans attached covering six suggested names. Of the six, only one was a woman. Two of the six were BAME. There were three white men. We all know the history/’his-story’ play on words. There is still such a long way to go…

It can be hard to know how we can each, individually, even begin to address the massive inequalities we see around us. I know that, in the general scheme of things, I am fortunate to sit quite comfortably within the hierarchy. I do not face discrimination because of the colour of my skin. I am educated. I don’t live in poverty. No one judges my sexuality. What can I do from this position of relative privilege?

Well, to coin a phrase, what would Jesus do? What did this brown-skinned, itinerant, incarnation of God on earth do?

He noticed the experiences of those who were not privileged, who were not equal, who were powerless, who went unseen and unvalued.

The widow who put her silver coins into the temple money box. The woman who was to be stoned to death for adultery. The lepers, shunned by society. The children turned away by his disciples. The thief hanging beside him on the cross.

And in standing with them, he amplified their voices and their value, sending a clear message to them and all around him: “These people you don’t value? I see them. They matter. I raise them up. I value them. I love them. I stand with them. They are worthy.”

Maybe for each of us, in our own small ways, that is our task. To see those who are oppressed. To make space to listen to their stories. To stand with them and amplify their voices.

In that spirit, listen to this self-penned lament by 12-year-old gospel singer Keedron Bryant, written in the wake of George Floyd’s death…

When we choose to hear their voices, to hear their stories, to let them break open our hearts so we can feel their pain, that’s how, in our small way, we change the world – by changing ourselves. We are the change – and we in turn can raise our voices and speak to power, changing others as we have been changed.

What would Jesus do? He’d take the knee and say #BlackLivesMatter.
Spend a few minutes praying, lamenting, mourning, and covenanting with God to value those who he values and stand up beside them in any way we can.

And that history assignment? After a conversation about equality and discrimination and all kinds of possible options, she’s chosen to do her project on Ruby Bridges…

Image may contain: 2 people, text that says "Tell your kid about Ruby Bridges, the first black child at an all-white public elementary school in Louisiana. She turned 65 this year. She's only 65. 65. @QasimRashid"

There is still such a long way to go… But we can take our share of the steps towards progress. Go, and seek out a voice you wouldn’t normally hear. Have good days, Zephyrs!

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