Doing the next right thing doesn’t always give you much time to think. When striving to be an anti-racist, being ready for action is important. A posture of readiness can be the difference between seizing an opportunity and letting it slide by. I recently found myself in one such opportunity in a hot, humid Chicago day.
On that hot day, my family was on a shuttle from the airport to our car seat transporter (aka minivan). The shuttle was full except for two seats. One of those seats was right next to me in the very back row and the other was one row ahead. The seats were empty for a reason, they were cumbersome to access and would seat the passengers right next to strangers. Surely, I thought, the shuttle would not stop to pick-up anyone else. Wrong! I soon felt the van slowing to a stop in front of another group of travelers and a Black couple began to load their bags in the trunk.
In that moment I knew I had a decision to make. Once the couple was seated, I could do one of two things: sit silently or strike up conversation.
I chose the latter.
I chose the latter something I’ve learned lately is that silence is not neutral; silence is often a denial of the problem and a refusal to be proactive.
And the desire to take active, anti-racist steps beats wildly in my heart.
This was the first time in quite a while that I had come face-to-face with another person of color with the opportunity to talk. I took a figurative deep breath and dived in.
I smiled at the woman and gestured to the seat beside me, hoping to show her how much I wanted her to sit there. Then I asked her how her trip had gone and if she was going home. To my relief, she not only answered my questions but kept talking! Her fiancé jumped in too (it turns out the couple had just gotten engaged)! We had a fun and lively conversation about their trip to Cancun, differences in the country’s COVID responses (because what conversation doesn’t get around to the Rona these days?), and their new engagement. We talked until the shuttle arrived, wished each other well, and parted ways.
Was the conversation deep? No.
Was the conversation about race? No.
But was it important? Absolutely.
I can’t know exactly what the couple thought about our conversation. But I do know that if I had chosen silence, it would not have been neutral or beneficial to our experience. Silence would have been proud, fearful, and awkward. It wouldn’t have put them at ease or done anything to exemplify Christ’s love or a willingness to build a bridge.
And, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad that the only seats left in that shuttle were right next to my family’s. Because, whenever there is the option to choose space we take it! Space is comfortable but usually facilitates silence. I am thankful that the couple filling those seats was Black and willing to talk. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to take action when so much of this early anti-racist journey feels like a struggle against inaction.
So, on that crowded shuttle, I learned that doing the next right thing requires readiness. Scripture often speaks of readiness as important and good, especially when it comes to bearing witness to Jesus.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
We want to be ready to choose right in whatever situation Jesus leads us into.
Truly, this anti-racism journey is one that we can walk in powered by Him, equipped by Him, and guided by Him. And we can lay our desires to do the right thing before him trusting in his faithfulness to help.
Where are you right now? Are you ready?
- Pray that God would give you opportunity to have a conversation with a BPOC (Biracial Person of Color).
- Keep your eyes open and prayerful. Doing the next right thing is easier when we actively practice looking for what God is doing!
- Practice an attitude of welcoming rather than ambivalence when you interact with any person. Seek to be someone who makes others feel their innate value as creations of God.
Let’s Stay in Touch
You can stay connected to this journey by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “subscribe me.” You can also follow on Facebook at @imperfectjourneyblog. I’d love to connect with you so we can become learners together.