January 20, 2023
The juxtaposition was jarring.
Two days ago. A dear friend from my college days came to visit and brought with him some issues of the WSU, Washington State University, campus newspaper. He had saved them all these years. The papers were from 1973, fifty years ago. One featured a front page story and photo of how some of us were advocating strongly for a budget increase for the BSU, Black Student Union. I was on the ASWSU Finance Committee and the article quoted me as saying the ASWSU “is asking all third world people to do a job we are not doing.” And further, I suggested that third world people were being saddled with the responsibility of ending racism. Amid much shouting, the budget increase was not approved. The white committee chair said he would dedicate himself to more minority representation on the committee. That didn’t happen either. Yes, that’s me in the middle of this photo. Same hair. Somethings don’t change. Yet some things do.
Yesterday. The governor of Florida banned all high schools in the state from teaching an African American Studies advanced placement course. He argued that the course “lacks educational value” and that “the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow.” This ban follows a 2021 state board of education ruling on critical race theory which argued against “this theory that racism is not merely the produce of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons.”
I wouldn’t even know where to begin unpacking this racist philosophy and fascist action. Others are doing that far more eloquently and powerfully than I could so I will leave them to it. The question that landed for me was about change. Fifty years ago we wanted to change the world. We wanted equity and justice, compassion and understanding, peace and environmental integrity. Fifty years on, has anything changed?
No, we didn’t achieve our ideal of ending racism and although we may have influenced the end of the Vietnam war, war continues. But yes, things have changed. We just need to look beyond the toxic rhetoric and actions of current political leaders and those who tether themselves to those abhorrent philosophies. They may get the media coverage, but that’s not the complete coverage of what’s happening in our nation. There are stories of equity and justice, compassion and understanding, peace and environmental integrity unfolding every day across this country and around the world. Those stories don’t capture the headlines but those stories reflect a shift in consciousness, a shift much more sustainable and sustainably embedded in our culture.
Looking back over these past five decades, I see the amplified shift in consciousness. I know this shift comes from those who hold and shine the Light, those who step into relationship and alliance with the sacred. Like ripples in a pond, that light spreads.
And from that Light, my Light and your Light, change happens. Transformation is possible.
The Light is rising.