Are we complacent or complicit with systems of racial injustice?

Are we complacent or complicit with systems of racial injustice?

December 14, 2020

By: Nitza Dovenspike, member of the Iowa Annual Conference Anti-racism Leadership Team

Complicity is defined as an involvement in a crime or something that is wrong. The word is sometimes confused with complacent which is more about going along with the current situation, the status quo. Perhaps complacent is a softer adjective or noun the complicit. And it may be difficult for us to see ourselves as complicit in doing harm.  
 
One of the goals for the work of the Iowa Annual Conference Anti-racist task force is to work on deepening our understanding of our own complicity and to cultivate spaces and opportunities for learning, confession and action.
 
Our group has been working on learning from books, videos, the work of different organizations and conversations. This journey led us to read and discuss the book “The Color of Compromise, the truth about the American Church’s Complicity on Racism” by Jemar Tisby. The author takes the reader on a journey of examination of the role of the American Christian church and its complicity with racism from the colonial era, through the revolution, the civil war, reconstruction, civil rights movement and the age of the Black Lives Matter movement.
 
Whether you agree with all the premises presented by the author or not; the learnings presented opportunities for self-reflection and ideas for action planning on what we may do a as disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the narratives and address racial injustice in our context. Do we focus too much on holding individuals accountable without addressing the systems and structures that shape the individuals? Do we blame the lack of relationships and our limitations to build and nurture relationships with people that are different from us? Do we fail to identify the structures and systems where we participate that make us complicit of racial injustice?
 
In the book Jemar Tisby suggests some actions that can help us all move towards a more just world. As we continue learning and shaping our work, I pray we can cultivate spaces that help us learn and lead towards making hope real by addressing systems that cause pain and harm on our brothers and sisters of other cultures. May we all move towards courageous Christianity