Another school year begins. I am sitting here in my office wondering what the year will be like for many.
I can’t help but think the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling reversing affirmative action is an ever-present reminder of the need for our continued pursuit of social equity and racial justice.
In the 2003 landmark decision, Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court found affirmative action constitutional in the case of student admissions at The University of Michigan. In her closing argument, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote, “We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.” I imagine that, in her statement, Justice O’Connor was envisioning a post-racial America. One that would uphold its declaration of the equality of all people. NOT!
For Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), however, the promise of equal opportunities remains distant. To abide by so-called “color blindness” when reviewing candidates for college admission or employment is to neglect the lived realities of those within BIPOC communities. Not only is this practice irresponsibly unjust, but it fails to address implicit bias and holds the propensity to do further harm. The privilege of not having to consider one’s race or ethnic background while pursuing an education is most afforded to white communities. While competitive resources are made readily available to white students, tangible support for BIPOC students remains elusive.
It is imperative for religious leaders to recognize that the Gospel message necessitates our concern and support for BIPOC communities. Understanding breeds empathy. Christian leaders must use their empathy to speak out against injustice, for the work of eradicating racism in the ministry to which we are called.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ mandates that we do not grow weary in the pursuit of justice and equity.
I pray; Lord Jesus, as the summer months begin to fade a new school year begins, thank you for slowing us down and energizing our children and young people to embrace new possibilities and opportunities that await them in their classrooms. Give them a hunger for knowledge. Let their minds be open to learning, wonder, discovery and creativity.
Help our parents to be patient and strong as they watch over our children ensuring they are learning and growing in ways that will create capable and equipped citizens.
Fill our teachers, aids, professors, and advisors with wisdom and the strength they need to lead our children. Help them to see the gifts and possibilities in every child, that they have equal intrinsic worth and contributions they can make to the world. May all our educators be reminded that are not just imparting knowledge and skills but also values. Help those of us, who are religious, community, political, social, and business leaders to advocate for quality education for all children and that no child is left behind.
Holy God, I pray for the persons behind the scenes, the janitors, kitchen staff, security guards, bus drivers, and workers who keep our children safe. May every learning environment be safe from all harm and danger.
Do this for us we pray in the mighty and matchless name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
—Bishop Robin Dease