Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a youth led and organized protest called “solidarity in the suburbs” in Woodbury. Being 33 years old, this was the first time I attended an event where I was the oldest person in attendance…and not just barely—by far I looked like the oldest person there.
Between 45-50 youth showed up to stand at the corners of two different intersections to promote and support holistic systemic change. As I stood on the corner holding my sign and joining in with the chants of the youth, I was overwhelmed with so much goodness. Yes, there were people who drove by and signaled the bird (or double bird) to the youth and showed their disdain for the protest happening, but the overwhelming majority of people that passed and cars that went by honked and hollered in support of the youth and what they were doing (I would say 60-70% of cars audibly and visibly showed their support). Two different cars came with water to hand out to those of us protesting (the cars were not involved with the protest), and thanked us for what we were doing. As I watched the youth coming together to take a stand that enough is enough and the community around them show overwhelming support, hope arose in me that perhaps we really can win this battle for systemic change through love and peaceful protesting—perhaps people are waking up to the systemic realities and atrocities that have plagued this country since its inception and are ready and willing to come together to create change.
One of the young women attending the protest had a sign that said “This ends with us.” And I hope with everything in me she is right.
For far too long we as a nation have ignored our youth. This generation has grown up with school shootings and massacres happening regularly, and as a nation we have done NOTHING to protect or defend their innocence and make this stop. This generation has grown up in potentially the most politically dividing climate in the United States, and yet they seem to have a tolerance and understanding for each other and those from different backgrounds unprecedented by previous generations, with maybe the exception of the Millennials. This generation has already organized protests and marches against gun violence (2018), and are making their voices heard and standing up for what they believe in (think Greta Thunberg).
The spirit and fight in this generation is amazing—especially because, in my experience talking with the youth, they want unity, justice, community, love, and peace to be what prevails. They simply want a world where EVERYONE is able to live in freedom and peace. They want equality/equity. They want justice. They want freedom. They want change. And its sounding and feeling like they are not going to stop until they get it. I could not be prouder of the students I have engaged with over the past few weeks.
I know there are a lot of mixed opinions within our CLC family on what is taking place in society. I also know the stories and narratives the media chooses to portray and spin ARE NOT the ACTUAL stories and narratives taking place on the ground. There is so much beauty, community, love, support, and kindness taking place in the midst of sitting, marching, and chanting for justice and systemic transformation. The people are coming together as one and it is beautiful. Please, if your information on what is taking place is coming solely from major news sources, I invite you to check out a live stream of a protest recorded by independent people in attendance. Yesterday Native Lives Matter held a solidarity march/protest and the messages/speakers were awing and beautiful. But I'm guessing their messages were not shared on main stream news--which is tragic.
Truly, I believe Creator is going to bring beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. I believe justice will come, and it will come in the fullness of goodness and love.
I also believe we are invited into this work, to be part of the justice and goodness coming. Becoming a white ally is work, work that one never arrives in, but is a continuous process for the rest of one's life. As someone who began the work of confronting my own white supremacy and racism 15 years ago, I can tell you that you never stop learning, growing, and making mistakes. We have to confront our own culture and learn to listen. We, as predominately white people of privilege, have to begin to listen to stories from outside our homogenous circles. We have to learn to enter into the stories of others, and hear what people are saying, what they have experienced, and what they need in support. We have to learn our own history, the true, complete stories, and we have to do better. We have to follow Jesus. We have to lay down our opinions and listen to the voices of the communities most deeply impacted by what is happening and honor their stories and leadership in what is needed.
I hope as older generations we can support the youth and come alongside them. After all, this is their future. This is the society they will inherit. It's time they had a say in what it looks like and how we proceed forward (since we have done NOTHING to stop the violence that has interrupted and ended the lives of their peers).
“This ends with us.”
May it be so.