Yesterday was a day that made me believe that profound and radical change is actually possible in our country. In the wake of the decision by the U. S. Supreme Court to make marriage equality possible across the country my Facebook feed was flooded with proclamations of “love wins.” As a straight ally, I rejoice and celebrate with my LGBTI friends and family. I’m also guarded, praying that God will shield the joyous, knowing that changes in the laws of the state don’t always take away the “hatred and evil” that infect the hearts of many who don’t embrace full inclusion. Nevertheless, I can’t help but be hopeful for what this means not just for LGBTI folk but for people of color.
Even as we reel from the massacre of the Charleston Nine, I’ve been buoyed by signs of hope at this General Convention that love might eventually win for people of color, too. I’ve noticed a new generation of deputies of color who embody both the heart of activism and commitment to the church. I see the elders of the movement like Diane Pollard and Byron Rushing teaching the history, working the process, and leading while still making room for the next generations. Yesterday I attended the meeting of the Committee on Social Justice and United States Policy legislative committee where several resolutions related to racial reconciliation were under consideration. To hear a white member of the committee say words to the effect of, “we have the chance to make race the centerpiece of the next triennium” signals a shift. If funded, resolution C019 will put real muscle (to the tune of $1.2 million) behind the work of racial reconciliation for both justice and mission strategy. I’ve also watched deputies, bishops and visitors of every hue clamor for “Black Lives Matter” signs and buttons. My sense is that it isn’t just the “cool” button to have at this convention but that there is a deeper conviction and belief in its truth.
These signs and buttons were made possible thanks to the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, a white ally who is not even in attendance at this convention because he is at home doing the grass roots work needed to make things different for people of color.
These may seem to be small signifiers of hope but I’ve seen the power of buttons, signs and allies before. The road to marriage equality has been paved by decades of hard work, but also by folks wearing rainbow buttons proclaiming, “straight ally”, and “I’m straight but not narrow.” These are the benign tools of a movement that collects not just memorable swag but partners, co-laborers, and the diverse voices needed to help the rest of the world see the depth and breadth of the committed.
Black folks, first nations peoples, Latinos, Asians and many others in the rainbow of humanity have been working and waiting centuries for change in this country and the blood of our slain continues to run. But if marriage equality can become the law of the land, and if symbols of the Confederacy can begin to fall, and if there can be a run on “Black Lives Matter” paraphernalia in the Episcopal Church, well then, maybe we are getting just a little closer to love winning for everyone.
The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville Burrows is a deputy from the Diocese of Chicago.