By Angela A. Reed
Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, now I will arise.
– Psalm 12:5
Last June, I participated in an all-day DiverCity Summit event on behalf of Tacoma Community House, my US-2, Global Mission Fellows placement. The City of Tacoma hosted the forum to raise awareness of race and equity in the workplace. The day started with opening remarks from the keynote speaker, Jenna Hanchard, a local news anchor and journalist. The rest of the day was jam-packed with discussion, real time application and a chance to explore community efforts to recognize the ways we can include different forms of cultural professionalism during the hiring process. I was eager to share the steadfast mission of the United Methodist Women with Mayor Victoria Woodards! She was genuinely delighted to hear about the unifying service and advocacy of powerful women making a global impact.
The 2018-2020 Global Mission Fellows cohort came together for a weeklong mid-term training in Detroit, Michigan, last summer to discuss the different forms of power, privilege and oppression perpetuated in systems across the United States. Each group discussion and hands-on training was thought provoking, but for me, the highlight of the training was our tour of downtown Detroit, historically known as “Black Bottom.”
The reputable tour guide, Jamon Jordan, president of the Detroit Chapter and Association of African American History, delivered a high-spirited and powerful presentation about the city’s overcoming racial and economic barriers. I recognized many parallels of injustice throughout the tour to my hometown in Baltimore, Maryland, and to my placement site in Tacoma as well, such as redlining infrastructure, segregation and racial discrimination.
From various monuments to church structure and different historical sites, every stop told a story that put us in the footsteps of our ancestors’ significant stories and harrowing paths of breaking chains of injustice. Major highways were eventually built through the community, ultimately shifting the dynamic of the city, but the hidden history continues to paint a resilient picture. The group tour ended at the Gateway to Freedom International Memorial, remembering the slaves that stepped out in faith, swimming across the Detroit River to Canada for freedom.
We have traveled a long way, but different forms of racial and economic barriers are still causing some to swim over troubled waters. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal’ on this journey forward to a free nation, under God, in Jesus name, Amen.
Angela A. Reed is a Global Mission Fellow, US-2, from Frostburg, Maryland, serving with the Tacoma Community House in Tacoma, Washington.