We Out Here: Women Bearing Witness

“Womanhood is integral, not incidental, to the Imago Dei”    Duke Kwon


Y’all know women have powered life and livelihood around the world for some time. Most people  already know that women make up half of the U.S. work force but earn only 79 cents to a man’s dollar. Most people would say they believe in the social, economic and political equality of all genders, which happens to be the basic argument of feminism.

Our interests are deeper than proving that more people are more feminist than even they would believe. Faith for Justice is about calling Christians to confess our own indifference and commit to shifting our focus from self to neighbor, moving from ‘neighborly’ to family. There are so many ways to make this change. Luckily a more progressive social calendar invites us to form good habits. Celebrating Hispanic Heritage – for instance – is helpful in reminding me to lament my indifference to social justice issues that impact my Latino friends. Black Heritage month means a number of opportunities to listen, learn and respond to the concerns of African American communities. Yes, neither of these groups should have to wait until February or September to have the world remember them, but everyone who has ears to hear will find that there is “plenty good room” in the human heart for loving more than one human’s story.

You see, because I am a black woman every month is Black Women’s history month. Because I have Asian American friends and work with persons concerned about LGBTQ+ issues, Hispanic community issues and immigration issues, every month is awareness month. Love is how we stay woke. It is my responsibility and my joy as a person who does not live these stories to daily embrace them, and to invite others to bear witness of their worth. This is what community looks like. Women’s history month is yet another opportunity.

We can’t design a one size fits all framework for “getting better” at hearing and encouraging women, because we have a solid framework in the story of our Lord. I can explain what I have learned from experiencing that story, or share the actions to which I am inspired. But it is presumptuous to regulate engagement by my interpretations, personal preferences and patterns; I am learning this every day.

Both celebrating and honoring women necessitate commitment beyond discussion; action as well as dialogue; self-education for the purpose of change. If we have spent the past few months or years learning about our mothers and sisters burdens then this should continue. It must also be time to dismantle the divisions that have caused us to be ignorant for so long.

It must be time to ask Mary of Bethany, “what did you learn when you sat at Jesus’s feet?” It must be time to see Hannah’s song as Spirit-breathed scripture with the capacity to comfort and correct. Perhaps it is time to remember Rachel’s bitter weeping over the slaughtered children of Israel when we hear the sorrow songs of mothers on the Mediterranean, of women impacted by mass incarceration and violence. Time to hear and answer the cries of Sybrina Fulton, Hawa Bah, Kadiatou Diallo, Constance Malcolm, Valerie Bell, Geneva Reed-Veal, Gwen Carr, Lezlie McSpadden, Toni Taylor, Barbara Ball-Bey, of Syreeta Myers.

These women continue to bear witness in spite of the fact that they have suffered deep loss. May their witness inspire us to do the same.

 


photograph by Neil Das

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