Are racial and gender equality a possibility? This was the question my fifteen-year-old asked me about a month ago. She followed up her question with “After all, racial and gender discrimination have been going on for so long now, despite the hundreds of years long advocacy for gender and racial equality.” And with a shrug of her shoulders, she answered herself, “I mean, it doesn’t seem like it.”
I pondered her question for a while, acknowledging indeed, that racial advocacy has gone on for a long time and yet, people of color (particularly Blacks) are still fighting the battle and still not being heard (it seemed). Likewise, despite the years to devoted to advocating equality for women, women (especially women of color) were still far from living into that reality.
As I pondered these facts, my mind turned to the issue of salvation through Jesus Christ and how long God has been reaching out to humanity – from the Old Testament to Jesus’ first coming, and this time in between as we await his second coming – the message is still the same. It would also appear that sin is on the rise: humans hating and hurting each other and creation despite the two millennia old message of John 3:16 and ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.’
As I pondered my daughter’s somewhat desolate question through this lens, the answer came to me: yes, racial and gender equality are possibilities in the here and now, just as salvation and new life in and through Christ are real in the here and now.
The veracity and efficacy of the Gospel are not measured by how many people do not receive it, but by the transformation in those who do believe and receive it. In the same way, we must look for the veracity and efficacy of gender and racial equality not by measuring those who neither accept nor practice it, but instead in those who believe, accept and practice it.
We must look for the answer among those few white communities that have rejected white supremacy to walk alongside their brothers and sisters of color as equals, no matter what.
We must look for the answer among those few men that have rejected patriarchy to instead walk alongside their sisters as equals in every sphere of life.
These are the places we must look for the success of our advocacy. If we do that, we will know that the message of racial and gender equality is not only real, but that it is possible because we see it at work in some folks and communities on earth, and just like with the Gospel, we will rejoice when we see this at work, and we will join with such people and form visible communities of reconciliation that give testimony to God’s restorative grace among us and in the earth.
So brother and sisters, neither lose heart nor be fainthearted because the whole earth has not yet received the message of racial and gender equality. Keep working at it. Keep preaching it. Keep advocating for it. Keep modeling it. Keep passing on the baton. Neither despair nor abandon hope, for the message is real and the life in it, whole. That is why we believe it and that is why we model and advocate for it. Keep on being faithful and let the LORD of the Harvest do his thing.
-Rev. Oghene’tega V. Swann
Rev. Oghene’tega Swann is an ordained Teaching Elder (Pastor) in the Beaver-Butler Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church(USA). She is the organizing pastor of Refreshing Springs Mission Church, Aliquippa & Ambridge. She has the honor and privilege to be mother to one wonderful child.