“Among the moral imperatives of our time, we are challenged to work all over the world with unshakable determination to wipe out the last vestiges of racism … that hound of hell which dogs the tracks of our civilization.”
By The Rev. Alka Lyall
As a United Methodist preacher who pays attention to our “Special Sundays,” I am thinking of ways to celebrate Human Relations Sunday on Jan 17. I enjoy preparing for these services for I realize they are great reminders of who we are and who we are called to serve. They call us to live out our missional commitment to care for others. John Wesley calls us to be “agents of justice.” Scripture demands that we seek justice for all. Jesus challenges us to love one another and to watch out for each other.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday is observed next week, also challenges us to work towards a common goal of making life better for each other and to fight against racism. And yet the sin of racism is prevalent in all aspect of our lives- not only in this country but all around the world.
As a South Asian, I was proud to say that racism is not a concern in India or in the South Asian community, but I quickly realized I was wrong. Racism and classism has and is very much present in our culture even in this day and age. And sadly, I have been a part of it. I have perpetuated it. And even today I participate in acts of racism and classism–sometimes unknowingly and sometimes unconsciously–because it is so ingrained in us that many times I am completely unaware of it. Every day I try to do better, and every day I fail. Every day I learn some more and try to do better the next day. I continue to do so because it is the right thing to do–no one deserves to be treated differently because of the color of their skin or place of their birth or culture of their origin. I try every day because as a pastor I want to model it for those whom I serve. I do this because I am reminded by scripture, by those who have gone ahead of us, among whom is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that no one is really free until all are free. Until we all learn to respect and accept one another for who we are, racism and classism remain alive in our world and will keep us from fully living our call as children of God. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. calls us to wipe away racism, not only from our country but from our world.
I commit myself to trying everyday–to treat others better, to unlearn things that perpetrate racism and classism, and also to speak up whenever I see someone being treated differently because of their looks, language, or location. As Dr. King said, it is our “moral imperative.”
Rev. Alka Lyall, who grew up as a Methodist in India, is an ordained elder from the Northern Illinois Conference and currently the pastor of Broadway UMC in Chicago, Ill. She is a delegate to 2016 General Conference and serves on the RMN Board of Directors, the Inter-Ethnic Strategy Development group, and is the Vice President of the NCJ Asian American UM caucus.