Today’s readings bring to our attention the rejection that many people of color deal with in American society.
In America, people of color have historically been given the biblical role of the last child in line for an inheritance or honor, and in many ways this remains true in the present day. Black people in America were considered sub-human until a war was fought and a piece of paper was signed.
But people of color have always known at the core of their being that they mattered—and the most recent example of this conviction is the Black Lives Matter movement and hashtag. As Jacob gave Joseph a long tunic to recognize his inherent dignity, the hashtag developed into a tunic for black people today. However, in some ways, not much has changed; many people still want to strip the tunic from them.
Some people react to this new tunic by proclaiming, “All Lives Matter!”— as if each chant of black survival and self-love excludes care for all of God’s children. How does this not resemble the reaction of Joseph’s brothers when they see his long tunic?
Some people proclaim, “All Lives Matter!”— as if black survival excludes all of God’s children.Click to tweet
People of color were once the stones that White America wanted to reject and cast aside, but they have become cornerstones of our culture. As Jesus quotes the psalmist in Matthew’s gospel, this is wonderful in the eyes of the Lord. However, as faithful servants called to recognize that black lives are just as precious as other lives, we still have a lot of work to do.
- In what ways have I cast people of color aside because they didn’t fit my limited world view?
- Have I witnessed people trying to destroy the tunic of others?
- What can I do to defend the tunic of others?
Brendan Underwood is currently a senior at Saint Louis University High School in St. Louis, MO, where he leads a social justice group that studies racism through reflection on the past and action in the present.