Hear the Songs and hymns, and quiet whispers as the elongated shadows from candle-holding vespers define Christmas eve. All are awaiting the midnight celebration of the savior’s birth. Trees are lit with bright lights as the reds, greens, and tinsel sparkle in children’s imaginations, tarrying for that expectant day.
Have you ever been treated like an afterthought or an unwanted guest? Dignity is priceless. Hospitality is humanity’s breath. Imago Dei, the Image of God, gives us all the right to bear His image unashamed.
Yet, out in the cold, a homeless family seeks shelter, and the early winter’s bite selects those with nowhere to go. An immigrant family waits as an asylum judge deliberates their fate.
The truth of the nativity story weighs not on the side of those candle-holding celebrants but on the hope displayed by the marginalized.
In Romans 5:5, scripture declares: “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
The words “no room in the Inn” quoted in scripture are more clearly translated as “no Guest Room.” The historical record of that region would equate it to a “Family Room” shared with other families. The room had no private entrance from the outside. Those occupants would have to ascend and descend the stairs and pass by the livestock to enter and exit the dwelling.
For humanity, this is where hope begins. Not in the safe confines of privilege, acknowledged or not. Hope starts with love, an extended hand, a listening ear, a reflective heart, an open door, and the dignity to disagree and still love. For many in the BIPOC world, this hope is elusive.
The words of scripture say.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
Though elusive, the hope experienced in the nativity lives on today in the faith journeys of many marginalized communities of color. Though racial equity is not yet realized in American society, the substance of things hoped for maintains strength among communities of color. Pew research concludes that African Americans, followed by Latinos lead all American ethnicities in their dedication to the Christian Faith. It has been exhibited repeatedly as a motivator and driving force for the different social movements to overturn systemic injustice. This hope must not be only present in minority communities.
Allies must emerge by actions and empathic tangibles that do not disappear when the spotlight dims.
“these words from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” As scary as blatant bigotry can be, there is something truly haunting about the masked indifference from the people who claim to be your allies. There is a tendency in white allies to participate in social Justice only when it is popular, and with an unflinching mindset not open to instruction.” Staff writer Morgan Johnson’s article from The Vanderbelt Hustler, entitled “White allyship is fair-weather.”
The challenge for those of the dominant culture who choose to engage in the work of racial Justice is to move from being an Ally to being an Accomplice.
“Too often for those of us who carry lots of privilege – race, class, ability or citizenship status privilege – we fail to act or to stand in solidarity with those who are being targeted by systems of oppression. Or, if we do act, the tendency is to engage as white saviors, which ultimately makes it about us instead of the people we claim to be in solidarity with.”
by Jeff Smith Grand Rapids Institute for Democracy(GRIID).
According to Smith of (GRIID)
“An Ally is typically considered a verb – one needs to act as an ally, and can not be bestowed this title themselves. The actions of an Ally have greater likelihood to challenge institutionalized racism, and white supremacy. An Ally is like a disrupter and educator in spaces dominated by whiteness.’
“The actions of an Accomplice are meant to challenge institutionalized racism, colonization, and white supremacy by blocking racist people, policies, and structures, realizing that our freedoms and liberations are bound together, retreat or withdrawing in the face of oppressive systems is not an option.”
In the hopelessness of a society of deep divisions, white supremacy fueled power dynamics, bias, and systemic racism, difference makers, must emerge to not only move the marginalized from unwanted guests to welcome guests. But fundamentally embrace these communities as family and the stakeholders, proprietors, and heirs of all of the Promise laid in that manger over two thousand years ago.
Hope maketh not ashamed when the powerful embrace righteousness over reputation, i.e., doing the right thing simply because it’s right. The marginalized must speak up and speak their truth; the flickerings of hope depend on it because “Hope maketh not ashamed.”
By Kevin Robinson Founder/Editor, Publisher of Three-Fifths Magazine