We are faced with a pandemic that has put all of us at risk of grave illness but has revealed how unjustly we treat each other. I am heart sickened by what I see.

How can we be so unjust? What can I say or do to make a difference?

I am thankful there are people who are more eloquent than I, who have rightly called out the racism so pervasive in our culture.

I can listen to what they have to say. Especially listen to people of color who are having to live this racism every day, in ways I don’t see or recognize. I can learn to see, I can learn how I contribute, how I fail to see my own white privilege. I can read to be better informed. Currently on the United Methodist Women’s Reading List is the book “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo. Others have recommended, “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo and “How to Be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram Kendi. I plan to read!

I can pray. I need to pray more. Pray for a just world where everyone is treated fairly and with respect. Pray at 8:46 AM and PM, “pray for all persons of color who suffer at the hands of injustice and oppression. Pray for our church as we take a stand against racism”, as requested by our Council of Bishops.

I can give. As a member of United Methodist Women, I know my Mission Giving goes to support organizations demanding justice and accountability, including NAACP Georgia, Louisville Community Bail Fund and the Minnesota Healing Justice Network. Are there local organizations doing antiracist work in my community that I should support? I plan to find out.

I am thankful that my predecessors in United Methodist Women have been inspirational leaders in the work of racial justice, working to end lynching and other forms of racial violence leading the church in the adoption of the Charter for Racial Justice. But I am aware that often we have been complicit. There is much more we need to do, ongoing work to undo the legacy of racism.

I grieve the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. I grieve that in this time of pandemic, my brothers and sisters of color are disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus and the health system. I grieve that economic inequality and environmental injustice weigh heavier on communities of color. And I grieve that I often don’t know what to say or do! I have a lot to learn. I pray God gives me wisdom and understanding, the words to say and the energy for action. I cannot be silent and complicit any longer.

Karen McElfish
Arlington District Lay Leader