For all its beauty and civic pride, Winston-Salem, North Carolina – the city I love to call home – is really no better than any other southern town and in many ways is much worse. Why? Because we tie a pretty bow around our ugly inequities. The wealth in our town is extremely high, but take a closer look. In a town this flush (and we are flush), why do our citizens of color continue to suffer? Why does the serious financial power still belong mostly to white people, especially to white men and their white families? Why are most of our city’s critical decisions made by and in favor of the haves rather than the have-nots?
We schedule workshops and meetings to discuss the same old, tired disparities with the same old, tired (but well-meaning and kindhearted) people riffing on the same old, tired tune. Very little of real value changes, but we smile and pat ourselves on the back because we joined in the conversation. Plus we donated last year’s clothes to Goodwill and six cans of black beans to Second Harvest.
Make no mistake: systemic racism is right at home here in Camel City. So are hungry children; unfathomable poverty; financial inequity so deep it carries the stench of rot and greed; and blatant injustice, including the latest cover-up of Mr. John Neville’s murder by the hands of his jailers and a jail nurse.
All this and the novel Coronavirus, too.
Have you had enough? If it’s new leadership we need, then step up and make your platform known. If you have more money than you can spend in this lifetime, step up and fund a grocery store in one of our (or your) city’s many food deserts. Step up and help feed people by making a tithe worthy of Jesus; it’s not like the need is hidden from you or your children or your church or your bank or your neighbor. A short bit of research will lead you down the path of righteous knowledge.
My favorite Winston-Salem food project is SHARE Cooperative and Harvest Market.
Please. Look up from your life. We are in crisis here. Your help is so desperately needed. Every single one of us is in this cesspool together, and nobody gets out until everybody gets out. Come on, let’s get real. It’s time to get real.
Go ahead, let your light shine. Taking the bushel off your lamp won’t hurt but a minute and isn’t nearly as painful as going to school or work or bed hungry, or to live in fear for your life or the life of someone you love. Every. Single. Night. Can you imagine? No. You cannot. Those shoes don’t fit you.
Whether we go willingly or kicking and screaming, we are all being directed to mask up and take a seat in The Church of What’s Happening Now. We are being asked to search our hearts, find our humanity, and join up. My hurting town of Winston-Salem needs all the soulshine it can get these days and most likely yours does, too.