The parade into Jerusalem is well underway and – if we plan to follow Jesus into Easter this week – we might need to catch up. Speaking from the perspective of a Pharisee (a well educated, prosperous person in the dominant culture) some of us have a lot of catching up to do.
I’m trying to catch up on my history of white supremacy. Although it’s an 11 year old book – and it’s very detailed and very long – I’ve been listening to Annette Gordon-Reed‘s The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. It extensively covers the history of white supremacy during a slice of time when one enslaved woman landed in Virginia in the 17th Century whose granddaughter became the mother of Thomas Jefferson’s last six children.
As a southern girl who was taught that slaveholders treated the people they enslaved “like family” not to mention that Thomas Jefferson who wrote:
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….”
wasn’t really talking about “all men,” much less “all people” I have some re-education to do.
When a politician believes that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” he has some catching up to do about women’s reproductive health. Actually lots of legislators need to catch up on sex education.
When Americans believe that immigrants take jobs away from us, we need to catch up on economic realities.
When we believe that people with black or brown skin are more dangerous than people with white skin, we need to do our research on the actual numbers. While the gap between the number of black and brown prisoners and the number of white prisoners is lessening, it’s still true that:
In 2016, blacks represented 12% of the U.S. adult population but 33% of the sentenced prison population. Whites accounted for 64% of adults but 30% of prisoners. And while Hispanics represented 16% of the adult population, they accounted for 23% of inmates. Source.
Where do you need to catch up? And I’m not talking about returning emails or doing laundry. Yes, we are busy with life things. But in this week where people who follow Jesus consider Life and Death Things, can we agree that each of us – especially if you too are a Pharisee – needs to catch up on the realities of the world around us?