Fighting for Us All Blog Cover 1c - HolySmorgasBlog

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How one couple selflessly fought against injustice—even their own people’s ignorance—by living as “we”, not “them”.

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HISTORY-LEARNIN’

These are the times when I actually like social media because it’s making me aware of things I wouldn’t have known otherwise. For example, I recently was made aware of a group of  people who’d been purposely erased from our schools’ American history books although this group was courageous, brilliant, and deserving of recognition and documentation. And even though I’m 1/16th Indigenous/Native American, having been exposed to a lot of Native American lineage by my Grandmother, I’ve learned even more about it during these Google/YouTube/Social Media times—about the countless atrocities against the indigenous as a whole and the erasure and suffocation of our intertwined history.

Yesterday, because of a friend of mine reaching out on social media, another form of yummy American History was offered to me. I had the privilege of meeting a couple who are counted among the great civil rights era history shifters—people you of whom you may have never heard.

My friend Joni tracked this couple down in order to meet and speak with them. She then ended up planning an in-home gathering where a privileged group of us could hear them speak for Black History Month.

At the time of this writing, it’s the day after the gathering, many of my dreams are re-fired: I’m hoping to still be on the planet when Black Americans’ history is equally recognized, validated, valued, and celebrated—eliminating the need for Black History Month altogether. But as of now, we still have the need for a whole month of focus on the uncovering, unraveling, and correcting of American Black History—any American’s history is not and should not be separate from another’s. We are American History.

AGAINST THE GRAIN

Back to this couple; I am so grateful to have been in the room with these (still living) history-makers. Rewind to yesterday: after socializing a bit and chowing down a lot at Joni and Kirk’s home, we were able to “sit around the campfire” and listen to a few of their stories, ask questions, and take pictures.

By way of Mississippi (where Joni was born), this couple faced and fought the generational curse of racism: they heard it, saw it, and were familiarly-related to it. He was even the Pastor of many congregants who fought for racist ideals and in their self-deception, twisted God’s Word— justifying hatred toward “the negroes”.

Their beautiful names are Ed and Tina McRae. They’re both white.

PRIORITIZING THE PERSON, NOT THE SKIN

I mention their color because, especially during the race riots, it was significant, rare, and dangerous for white people to be outspoken (and active) against racism. This particularly struck me because they didn’t grow up with these ideologies in their homes. They had not even met or had a relationship with a Black Person until their mid to late twenties (aside from her Nanny)! Yet, in the deep South where racism was often cousin to murder and the murderous hatred in the word Nigger came as easily as breathing, this couple decided to fight against racism in the best way they knew how, by starting with their own church.

Enduring threats, they, along with much of their congregation, walked out of their racist church. The backlash from their Methodist “brothers” and the Methodists as whole was horrifying and anything but Christ-like; but this couple couldn’t stand idly by while their fellow humans, their fellow Americans, their Black brothers and sisters were being terrorized on all levels. Although they hadn’t grown up with black people, they had the understanding that they were brothers and sisters. To them, it was about our struggle, not their struggle.

There were many reasons to fight, but part of their reasoning was the big picture: what whites were doing wasn’t hurting and affecting Black People alone, it was hurting all—the church family and the human race. They couldn’t understand why so many of their white, so-called Christian, peers couldn’t see the blatant root of sin.

BORN OF CONVICTION

There is so much to their story than I could tell here so fortunately, Ed is featured in a now released book, Born of Conviction” if you’d like to read more.

The title is taken from a document that he and 27 other white ministers had signed. It clearly stated their opposition to the Governor’s closing of their public schools in the attempts to avoid and resist integration. That document not only ended up being published in the newspapers, but Ed’s “off the record” conversation with a reporter was also published (where Ed had answered the reporter’s question as to what was really going on in Mississippi regarding politics, integration, and racism). The two publications were a major part of why, soon following, all hell broke loose (for good and for change).

Those 28 Ministers were dramatically persecuted—to a level many have not known and some won’t ever. But Ed and Tina endured and stood their ground. God protected them and their children and they’re still thriving in their 60+ years of marriage—sharing their stories of adventure, advocacy, and triumph.

There was that time they came home terrified, as a KKK cross burned on their lawn; and another time when their lives where in immediate danger, a Jewish woman they didn’t even know offered to watch and protect their children; and when their ministry conference “leadership” segregated the swimming hole and Ed (along with other white ministers) spoke up and refused to swim at all. That may seem like a small resistance to some, but you could (and in some places still) get killed taking such a strong stance as that!

ACTIVE EMPATHY OVER PASSIVE SYMPATHY

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? Unless the Lord had been my help, My soul would soon have settled in silence. / Psalm 94:16-17 (NKJV)

As I sat there listening to all their stories and answers to questions, it took all my strength not to weep. Some say, you can’t have empathy without shared experience but I disagree. This couple is proof that statement’s untrue. I was amazed at Ed’s respect and empathy for what the black community was going through—he truly saw them and felt pain. He saw them not as other, but as us. They were his and our Black Community. One of his statements in the sixties was he was motivated and strengthened by the black community and that “…Black People [and what they endured] are the bravest, strongest people…”. He honored and admired their restraint and strength and resolve. He and his wife had (non-experiential) empathy and the unbiased love of God, which led them to join, defend, fight, pray, speak up…to lay their lives down for others (John 15:13, Proverbs 17:17).

I marveled at all Ed & Tina have seen. I celebrated their bravery. I was deeply convicted and inspired because I knew I could do more to fight and resist injustices on others’ behalf. I know I have the voice, the boldness, the creativity—I knew I had been applying abilities and skill-sets to help others, but after listening to Ed & Tina, I also knew that I had not done so fully. Not with complete boldness. Not at the risk of my life! Not with a child-like spirit. Not with wise abandon. That day, I decided to DO RIGHT—do more of God’s work—like there’s no tomorrow. Like Ed & Tina and all the black (and white, yellow, red, and brown) people they fought alongside.

I know I’m not called to rectify all injustices—I’m called to a specific few. Racism is one of them. Racism to me is a disgusting spirit of division and an offshoot of destruction—an anti-Christ spirit—forever attempting to fracture The Body and weaken the strength in unity.

Ed & Tina helped me recommit in doing my bit-part. I encourage you to do the same. Speak up. Whether as long as a book, as easy as a post, or as short as a #hashtag—defend and protect others. Let’s be the Ed & Tina others will someday write about and want to emulate (1 Corinthians 11:1). We ought to pour ourselves out until we’re empty so that we can say in the end, “…I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-7 NKJV)


Thank you for reading and for becoming more vocal and active against injustices—for the love of people.
Much love,
Kimberly Arland
HolySmorgasBlog.com
Original post February 13th, 2017

Applicable Scriptures

I pray that you would be filled with wisdom and spiritual understanding (spiritual and mental intelligence combined) and increase in the correct knowledge of God. / Col 1:9-10

  • We all need to do more right: seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and correct the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow… / Isaiah 1:17 AMPC
  • It should be a lifestyle to vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice and maintain the rights of the afflicted and destitute. / Psalm 82:3 AMP
  • Our silence and inaction should not be contributing to the oppressing of the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor.
    “…Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.” / Zechariah 7:10 NKJV
  • We should be making sacrifices because no there is no greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. / John 15:13 NKJV
  • A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. / Proverbs 17:17 NKJV
  • Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. / Proverbs 31:8 NLT

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