by Mary Frances
I see you.
I see your patience in the face of abject ignorance.
I see your poise in the presence of shameless hypocrisy.
I see your brilliance in the space of those who wish to diminish you.
I see you…and that smile. I see it, all of it and the complete frustration hiding behind it, knowing full well you are more intelligent, more moral, and more faithful than any of those questioning you will ever be.
I see you, and in you I pray more young women of color see themselves too.
You are an inspiration. We see you and know history will too.
– From a Facebook post by Sapna Singh
Last week I celebrated, along with much of the country, the confirmation of soon-to-be Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. I celebrated another woman on the highest court in the land and I celebrated that the woman who had broken that particular glass ceiling is black. All these hundreds of years of the court and now, finally, in 2022, we will have a Black woman on the Supreme Court.
Watching the proceedings, I cried when Senator Cory Booker said some things that he thought Judge Brown Jackson needed to hear; words he knew the whole country needed to hear that she belonged on the high court, that she was worthy, that God was with her and that all her hard work had paid off. And yet, we know that for many Black people in our country, many people of color, many Indigenous people, hard work doesn’t always pay off. And it can be confusing to understand why what works for some doesn’t work for all.
Yet, here in America, we have a carefully constructed system to keep white people in power and keep people of color struggling. It’s not always easy to see on the surface. Over the last few years, we at FaithX have been looking at the maps, looking at the data, and uncovering the sad truth that there is systemic racism in our country and that system can be displayed in the data maps we use all the time.
For a congregation on the south side of Chicago, we looked at red-lining maps and saw that the entire area around the congregation was in the area red-lined decades ago by banks, realtors and lenders. Then we looked at education spending, unemployment, access to public transportation, healthcare, grocery stores and more. Each time we found that the people living in the area that had been red lined back in the 1950’s were still struggling to have fair access to all of those essentials and more, over 70 years later.
It was important for all of us to see Judge Brown Jackson; her patience, her brilliance, her right to the seat she earned and to which she was appointed. It’s also important for us to see the small and not so small ways that racism shows up in our communities and our congregations….baked right in….because once we see it, we can finally begin the hard work of engaging and changing.
To learn more about Mapping System Racism, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.