It’s the Power and the Privilege

If, then…

If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice, have recognition for difference without attaching privilege to difference.

bell hooks

Do we want a beloved community? Then here’s what we must do according to hooks: stand for justice and recognize difference without attaching any privilege. Succinct statements like hooks’ work both ways. If we’re not willing to prioritize justice and stop assigning privilege to differences, then we don’t want beloved community. It’s like philosophical algebra.

In the first lesson of the online program, Trans Inclusion in Congregations, Alex Kapitan and Rev. Mykal Slack, characterize beloved community as not “homogenous.” It is not a collection of identical people who look, identify, think the same. Instead, beloved community invites us all to rub elbows at the table of conflict and reconciliation with people who are different, but equal.

Standing for justice and equity doesn’t mean we turn our backs on our own identities. It doesn’t require that we “stop seeing color,” or minimize our own struggles and challenges, not if we seek to create beloved community, and that leads us back to hooks’ equation. What do we want to build in place of a system that attaches privilege to specific differences, and are we willing to build relationships with those we have perceived as enemies or do we simply want revenge in place of justice? 

We are all different. Pretending as if our differences don’t exist will only result in an illusion of  equity. Alternatively, hooks encourages us to acknowledge our differences, to see our true individualities. It’s not our differences that create injustice and inequity, it’s the power and the privilege we give them. We could change that, but it all depends on the values we place on the variables in the equation.

~Lisa Kiel

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