Last week, a phalanx of protesters showed up in force at the Fort Worth Independent School District school board meeting to challenge the racial equity and cultural inclusion initiatives our nearly 90% Black and brown district has instituted in recent years.
The mostly all-white protesters all castigated Critical Race Theory in their public comments before the board, parroting similar groups that have descended upon school boards and other government bodies nationwide in recent months. This is a part of a large and well-organized right-wing effort to derail racial equity efforts all across America.
I am a strong supporter of efforts to address racial equity and cultural inclusion within Fort Worth public schools, and I affirm the intentional actions our district is taking to “identify, acknowledge and overcome racial and ethnic disparities between students.”
It is imperative that we give serious thought and consideration to the systemic issues facing so many of our students and work to address those issues for the sake of healing and wholeness within our community. Issues of racial and ethnic disparity have existed for too long within our community and district, and other districts and communities across America.
I commend the Fort Worth school board for its courage to confront the hard truth of those disparities and commit itself to addressing their root causes; and I encourage other community and district leaders to do the same.
There is a powerful metaphor found in the Christian tradition that speaks of the “body.” We are all members of one body — one body, with many members. And when something happens to harm a member part of the body, we have to address it. The answer is not to pretend like the pain and what is causing it do not exist. We have to pay attention to the pain, determine its cause, and commit ourselves to doing what is necessary for the sake of healing.
Also last week, a momentous event took place in America. Juneteenth was officially recognized as a U.S. federal holiday. We give thanks for the work of Fort Worth icon Miss Opal Lee, and so many others who did so much to make that recognition happen. It was a day of hope and healing, because our country made a commitment to recognize the truth about our divided history and commit ourselves to a more-united future. From now on, every day should be a day of hope and healing in America; and every day should be a day of hope and healing in Fort Worth.
We must not be afraid to recognize and name the truth. We have committed ourselves to knowing the truth and to telling the truth. And, as the old proverb says, the truth will set us free.
The truth is that we are one body, made up of many parts. For too long certain parts of our body have been neglected and abused and treated like they don’t belong. But they do belong. And we owe it to them to show them how much we believe that. We are all members of the same body.
And although our body has been broken, it can be healed. We can be healed if we will continue with our commitments to care for one another both in part and in whole.
Powerful forces are now organizing to put a stop to the racial equity work so many of us committed to in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. We cannot allow this work to be stopped. Rather, we must do what I encouraged our district to do as I made my own public comments before the Fort Worth school board: “Keep your hands on the plow.”
Ryon Price serves as pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
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