Thirty-five adults and high school youth from across the Mid-America Region converged at Jo-Ota Retreat Center over MLK, Jr. weekend for a Winter Retreat. The weekend consisted of presentations, simulations, games, fellowship, worship and discussion groups, all centered around the topic of social justice.
Rev. Loy Hoskins presented an eye-opening account of white privilege. Rev. Sally Robinson and Lisa Conner-Collier from the DOC Pro-Reconciliation/Anti-Racism team shared history, videos, stories and conversation about awareness and their works towards reconciliation. Rev. Jeff Moore helped participants dig into the Bible and reflect upon scriptural accounts and Jesus’ instructions regarding social justice. William Jackson finished off the presentations with discussion on our personal privileges and categories of oppressed groups. All of the presenters shared vital information, both from their personal stories to historical data. Participants engaged in honest and open conversation, sharing their privilege or lack thereof, hopes, fears and dreams for a just society.
The group participated in simulations and exercises demonstrating the effects of discrimination and oppression. An activity on economic disparity resulted in a small elite ruling class, countered by a majority lower class and even an impoverished group of angry protesters demanding fair treatment.
Tomorrow’s world looks more just and hopeful through the eyes of youth who are WOKE to white privilege, systemic racism, discrimination and oppression, and are passionate about creating equality and justice for ALL of God’s children.
A few dreams shared by the youth during our 12 hour Night of Silence:
- “I have a dream that one day wars won’t exist because people will be happy with what they have and not crave more.”
- “I have a dream where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.”
- “I have a dream that one day people won’t be judged by their race, intelligence, social class, gender or culture and that everyone will be treated equally.”
- “I dream that employers will hire the most qualified person, not just the person most like them.”
- “I dream that one day everyone sees each other as God sees us.”
- “I have a dream that one day those who are poor would really be able to move up in the world.”
- “I have a dream that one day we will not have to dream. That one day we won’t have to be afraid. That one day we won’t need to cry out for justice. That one day, freedom and liberty really will be for all.”
- “I have a dream that my family will still come to my wedding, even if I marry a woman.”
- “I have a dream that we acknowledge each other’s differences and love each other for it.”
- “I have a dream that my race will not hold me back.”
- “I have a dream that things will change for the better, for everyone.”
- “I have a dream….to have the bravery to act and the voice to speak.”
- “I have a dream of understanding, compassion, communication, caring, empathy, fairness and love.”
- “I dream of change, and for people to realize what is really going on and make it stop.”
- “I have MLK’s dream now, and I will fight with all I’ve got to make a difference. This person is going to fight for the voiceless and oppressed and make this country an equal land.”
- “I have a dream that this country will learn the process of grief, healing, closure, acceptance and the strength to move forward. I dream that people everywhere would learn from, accept, teach and even love those around them rather than point guns.”
Thanks to Kris Milliron for this story and photos
and to Paul Koch for additional photos.