Voices: Justice is the right key to the right door

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EDITOR’S NOTE: “Justice looks like …” is a special series in the Voices column. Readers will have the opportunity to consider justice from numerous viewpoints. The series is based on each writer’s understanding of Scripture and relationship with Jesus Christ. Writers present their own views independent of any institution, unless otherwise noted in their bios.

You are encouraged to listen to each writer without prejudgment. Then, engage in conversation with others around you about what justice looks like to you.

Click here for more information about the series. Click here to read the full “Justice looks like…” series.

A friend recently asked me, “How can we, as your white brothers and sisters, promote racial reconciliation in these hard times and beyond?” I appreciated the question.

I believe my answer, in short, is justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.

Justice, diversity, equity and inclusion look like arrows to me that point us to racial reconciliation. Racial reconciliation is a gift birthed from justice.

A benefactor to that would be a world with a greater commitment to rejecting racist cultures and the promotion of anti-racist cultures.

Right now, people are “punch drunk,” as they say in the boxing world, by the hard blows of the health, economic and racial pandemics.

Some are clueless or insensitive, because they have not been directly impacted by the loss of friends or family, loss of jobs, loss of safety, loss of life or loss of income. We are continuing to watch two Americas at war at the same time.

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Time to face racism

The time has come to discuss racism and not to run from the necessary tension. It’s uncomfortable, messy work, but necessary work, Christ-inspired work, redemptive work.

A work that should require a lifetime commitment, and one that should force each of us to “die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:21).

We must take a look at racism—the original sin of America—and its consequences.

We must sit in grief with one another, hear one another and find solutions that don’t dilute the pain of the past, but encourage a culturally competent future.

We must look at who we hire and how many faces and backgrounds look the same and how many that look differently are welcomed. We must ask ourselves: “Are underrepresented people valued and welcomed, and do we see ‘the proof in the pudding’ on our rosters, websites, org charts, images we promote and on our payroll?”

We must hire all people and have processes and policies that ensure it.

We must be open to dialogue about what diversity, equality and inclusion means and what justice looks like to others.

We must also be careful not to skate around conversations on social justice in the gospel, in the church, in relationships, in the workplace and community.

A seat and a voice

Many want racial reconciliation divorced from social justice. It’s not possible and neither is it biblical.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Justice must be wrapped up in humility, repentance, lamentation, forgiveness, shared experiences, shared opportunities, equity and reconciliation.

Justice is not one-sided. It includes all people at the table with equal and distributed power.

One writer said, “Diversity is having a seat at the table; inclusion is having a voice at the table; and belonging is having that voice be heard.”

To me justice, diversity and inclusion provide a table, a seat, a voice and an opportunity that promotes reconciliation.

A question toward justice

What are practical ways we can impact change right now by being just?

By inviting minority leaders to the table. Are women at your table? Are Asian, African, Indian and Islander leaders at your table? Are leaders with disabilities at your table? Are African American and Latinx male and female leaders at your table on every level? Are people at your table that do not share your political, social or theological views?

When the answer is, “Yes,” that’s when justice is in view.

It is not a moment. It is a movement. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must forever continue our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”

Dignity and discipline—those are the keys to the future that open the doors of justice to me.

May we not be at the right place with the wrong key.

Rev. Cokiesha Bailey Robinson is the associate dean of student diversity and inclusion at Grace College and Seminary in Winona Lake, Ind. The views expressed are those solely of the author.

Click here to read the full “Justice looks like…” series.

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