Racial tension in America has grown and has spiraled out of control in America. With the recent election of our current president, closeted racist trolls have come out of their places of hiding to rear their ugly heads not only behind screens of overpriced electronics, but in our schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, and yes, even in our places of worship! Oh, and by the way in some of our families as well.
Inclusion, equality, and equity in my opinion are words that we tend to use in our everyday language to impress people, and to show how liberal and progressive we are rather it’s political or religiously. They have become words that we just throw around, words like “diversity” or “welcoming”, but, we honestly have no idea what we truly mean when we use these words.
Since I’m currently a seminary student and in ministry, I would like to look at these three words: inclusion, equality and equity from the context of Christianity and the relationship that they have with the local church. According to the dictionary, inclusion is the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. To be connected to a local church, or most importantly to say that you are a Christian who says they believe in inclusion, but does refuses to open your heart or even the doors of your church to people within the LBTQIA+ community, refuses to take care of widows, orphans, to welcome the immigrant, or speaks hatred towards a person because of their race, I would say you are not an inclusive Christian. I would go deeper to say that you are simply not an inclusive person. To be inclusive is to welcome people as they are without any motive. For people to come into your spaces, whatever those spaces maybe, just as they are without fear of being ridiculed or being asked to change who they are to make you feel comfortable.
Equality is basically everything being equal, and everyone being entitled to the same rights and opportunities. We live in a nation, where we claim everything is equal, but sadly, as an African American male who daily has to walk around in my black body, I would beg to differ. Equality has not been attainable for African American men, for immigrants, for women and for countless others who are forced to live on the margins of society. Therefore, social justice work is so important.
Whether you are on the frontlines of a protest, making phone calls to politicians, making your voice heard on social media outlines, or even preaching social justice from behind the pulpit, a person’s work in the fight for justice and equality to ensure that all people have an equal slide of rights and opportunities in important. Do not allow a person to tell you your work is not as important as their work. There is plenty to go around!
Equity is simply being fair. In our nation, our minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and in Missouri where I live, it is $7.70 per hour. The higher ups who make the rules expect every day, hardworking people to live off these meager wages, when the average cost of everything continues to go up! That’s not far. That’s not being equitable to people who just want to go to work and take care of themselves and their families.
It has been researched that employers overlook qualified candidates for job opportunities just because of how “ethnic sounding” their names are. “Jabari Coleman” who graduated top of his class in high school and has a college degree can and my get overlooked for a job interview, but “Mark Thomlinson” who may have graduated high school, but dropped out of college gets called in for a job interview, and more than likely for the same job that “Jabari” applied for. How is that fair?
Inclusion, equality and equity, words that we all need to seriously take a look at ourselves and how we look at others within the different context of life that we serve in, and see if we are truly living those in action and in deed.
by Phillip A. Harris, Guest Firestarter