A new year means new resolutions to do better, be better, and grow as person. It’s only the middle of January though and I am already failing at my new years resolution: to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I’ve fallen back into the same routine of going to class, talking to the same people, eating the same food, and going to the same places for fun. I am addicted to comfort and security… and there’s a good chance you are too.
Being a Horizons Fellow has challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone, specifically, when it comes to racial justice. In one of our recent meetings, we were able to talk about how to approach racial reconciliation in Charlottesville with its history and current issue of gentrification. This meeting included the Perkins Fellows as well, and I was not the only minority speaking on this issue.
The discussion did not end with a singular action based resolution and it would be naive to think that a complex societal issue could be solved in one meeting. Nevertheless, that should not debilitate one to inaction. No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.
Start by listening to the people who are affected by this issue. This means going out of your way to meet people who are different from you. Go to culture shows, One Way IV/AIV/GCF large group, BSA/ISA/VSA meetings and listen! Let people talk about their experiences and validate them. Their experiences are real and may extend beyond just themselves. Be comfortable being uncomfortable not knowing everything about race and privilege. I myself am still learning from people who come from different backgrounds than my own and it can still feel uncomfortable at times! Don’t be afraid of feeling stupid asking questions. It is more stupid to accept living in ignorance. And if you’re someone who has never had to think about how race affects your day-to-day life, it is to be expected that some things need to be explained. And that is OK! It is a process and it takes humility to accept this.
Let's move towards looking more like Christ and be people who initiate these conversations. Jesus initiated conversation when it came to the Samaritan woman (John 4:7-42) and the crippled beggar (John 5:1-15). And in both situations, he was met with pushback and awkwardness. But, Jesus proceeded to converse and interact anyway. He was not deterred from the responses because he loved each one deeply. Our love for comfort and routine should not supersede our love to know and understand brothers and sisters of a different race.
This year, I commit to being comfortable being uncomfortable, not only for the sake of my brothers and sisters, but for my own personal growth. I will be intentional in placing myself in communities that don’t look like me, and learning from them. Will you step out in faith and take up this challenge with me?
To learn more about the Horizons Fellows program, click here.