One of the most familiar stories in the New testament is the story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37. The story is so familiar that we sometimes implicitly identify with its lead character and forget to see it in other ways, to imagine ourselves in other characters.
We all want to be the Good Samaritan. I want to believe that I have, at times in my life, actually been inspired to act rightly because of this text. However, I also know that I have been one of the folks in the crowd simply listening to the exchange between Jesus and the lawyer and wondering if it has anything to do with me. Honestly, though, I have never imagined myself to be the victim on the side of the road.
I was blown away this past summer when I opened up and started reading Pastor Lenny Duncan’s new book, Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US. Rev. Duncan helped me see this text in a new way. He writes as a black minister to his 96% white ELCA church: “White Supremacy is the system that separates us. Take for example, our reading of the parable of the Good Samaritan. I read it from the perspective of the one lying in the road, who has been waylaid by bandits. You see yourself as the Good Samaritan. Or, best-case scenario, you wonder why you keep passing me by on the road. Our neighborhoods are being colonized by well-meaning hipsters, and our deaths are on display on social media for all of Jerusalem to see. We carry our lynching tree up the hill like our savior before us.[pg.17]
Today is about new eyes. We must see our institutions, classrooms, residence halls, dinning spaces, study areas, and worship spaces through the lens of students who are not coming from the places of privilege.
Added July 2020 – to get to the heart of systemic racism on our campuses we need to look at the policies and procedures that keep BIPOC from reaching their goals. What are the roadblocks we are willing to see? What are the roadblocks we are willing to take down?