Word for the week: Brave
Have you ever had a word follow you around? Has a word ever continued to come into your mind and heart in such a way that you can’t ignore it?
That’s been happening to me the last few months. The word “brave” has been popping into my head and into my heart when I least expect it, but I think I know why. Because I need to be brave and to dig deep for that bravery.
The word “brave” started to follow me at the beginning of the year upon the death of social justice advocate Rahuldeep Gill on the last day of 2021. I meet him through interfaith work in the ELCA Outreach Center and had the honor of bringing him to speak at Carthage. Mr. Gill was a Sikh, and we went up to Oak Creek, Wis. together to the site of the Aug. 5, 2012 temple shooting. It was truly an honor to be with him in that space and for him to teach me about core pieces of his faith tradition.
Mr. Gill called me in spring 2020, the time when I started my blog and began speaking up and speaking out, and after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. We both shared a passion for justice and solidarity (which I think was one of his key words in life). However, he was much braver than me. He had so much more courage than I did. His knowledge ran so much deeper than mine. And his faith was strong. He prayed with me. He prayed for me. Honestly, it was overwhelming, and I wasn’t sure that I could live up to his prayer for me. I wasn’t sure I could be brave enough.
But it is time. It was just MLK Day. It is Black History Month. It is time to dig deep and to be brave. It is time to find my voice again and to speak up and to speak out for social justice for minority lives. It is time to walk in the path of those who have gone before us like the giants of the movement — like Rosa Parks and Rev. Dr. King — but more importantly, like those whose names are unknown to us. Those who kept showing up and making up the crowd, demonstrating that many of us desire and expect change.
At the beginning of this month, there were over a dozen bomb threats to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU). I heard about it on the news, but did I hear about it from predominately white institutions (PWI) in higher education willing to stand side by side with their HBCU brothers and sisters? I sure didn’t. If you did, please let me know because I’d be happy to give credit where credit is due. Why were PWIs silent? Why was I silent?
It is time for us all to be brave. To stand up and fight for equality for all. It is time to stand up and insist on telling the truth in schools about the history of this country so that we can heal and become the country that we truly want to be.
It is time for me to be brave and to speak up all the time, not just when I’m pissed off. It is time to honor the life and memory of Rahuldeep Gill, who never knew how much his life impacted mine. “Brave” is going to follow me until I live into it. It is time.
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Center for Faith and Spirituality
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