I am a contrarian and a challenger of all things. I like to ask questions. To anyone, about anything. I recognize that sometimes it might be inappropriate, and in those scenarios, I try to be sensitive and do research before I question.
Lately, with all of the major racial injustices that are finally being discussed, brought to light and being addressed, I wanted to help. I wanted to act. But I didn’t know how.
For the first time in my life, I forced myself to shut up and listen before instead of letting my passion take over. I listened to stories from people of colour, I tried to learn and understand concepts in new ways. I tried to figure out what I could do to help end inequality, which is something I have always been passionate about. But it all ended up with me feeling helpless. I couldn’t figure out the right way to word my feelings and I was frustrated by the inaction of others.
As a Christian, I felt convicted to help right the wrongs, but I lacked the knowledge and resources to help make it happen. I watched my church leaders to see what they would do. Then I looked to MCC Canada (Mennonite Central Committee). I may not be a Mennonite historically, or come from a Mennonite family. But I married into one, attend a Mennonite church, and work at a Mennonite non-profit organization. I am very much engrained in the culture, and I love and respect many core Mennonite ideals.
As such, I was frustrated that MCC Canada was remaining silent on the issue of racial injustice. I watched people in my own church deny the existence of systemic racism, and try to sweep away the hurt, hate, and injustices of the world. Mennonites historically were persecuted, and yet here were Mennonites today that were either actively or inactively engaging in persecution of other people groups.
I went to the MCC website and found absolutely nothing regarding the wave of outrage that has spread across the world. I decided to reach out to MCC and find out why. The only place I saw MCC speaking out against the injustices was on Instagram, so I started there. I sent a message detailing that I would love to share something from them that comes from a place that Mennonites trust, regardless of how they feel about the media.
I asked why MCC Canada had said nothing. Why had nothing been posted on the website? Why is there a discrepancy between their different forms of outreach? Why is it not being talked about? Why has MCC Canada not acknowledged and decried this persecution?
Last week, I heard back from them, stating that after my message they had reached out to MCC Canada and inquired for me.
Today, MCC released a statement.
Now I understand that many things in this statement are similar to statements from other companies and organizations. It is one thing to make a statement, and quite another to live by it.
Sometimes you have to ask questions in order to prompt responses. I may not have been the only one to contact MCC, but I am glad that I did. It takes a world of people to make a difference, and if me reaching out and asking questions can help prompt deeper thought and action, then I have made a difference.
Remember this. Take action on your morals. Live what you believe. Together, we can make a difference to change the world.
The statement in full is quoted below. They also posted a link to some resources on anti-racism education.
Dear friends, let us love one another.” (1 John 4:7, NIV)
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada is deeply saddened by ongoing occurrences of racially based violence, both in Canada and the U.S. MCC Canada acknowledges that racial injustices continue to plague Canadian society. These injustices impact Black Canadians, Indigenous peoples and other persons of colour and limits their abilities and opportunities to thrive within Canada. We are complicit in a society that has overlooked multiple forms of racism, especially anti-Black racism, based on our belief that Canada is different.
MCC Canada denounces racism and white supremacy in all its forms. The recent police killings and brutality against Indigenous and Black people in Canada is one current manifestation of a long-standing, historical tradition of oppression and racialized violence in our country. As an organization started by white settlers, we benefit from global structures of resource distribution that favour some and discriminate against others based on race. We have failed to adequately address and understand systemic racism and fully value the contributions and knowledge of Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC).
As a Christian organization, it is our mandate to share Christ’s love. It is impossible to love God if we cannot love our neighbours (1 John 4:20). Racism denies God’s plan for all human beings and God’s image within all human beings (Genesis 1:27). These truths are embedded in MCC’s operating principles, which direct our work in dismantling barriers of racial, economic and gender-based oppression so that all may participate in our program design, decision-making and implementation.
Through our Restorative Justice, Indigenous Neighbours and Migration and Resettlement programs in Canada, we strive to advocate for those on the margins, educate our constituents about racial injustice and build relationships across diversity. We confess that we have not done this as effectively as we should.
While MCC Canada continues to take actions that address racial injustice, we acknowledge we must do more. Moving forward, we will build on current activities and commit to:
examining our values, biases and aspirations as individuals and as an organization to make clear any barriers or biases that would keep racialized persons from full participation in the work of MCC;
making MCC a workplace that welcomes and retains more Black, Indigenous and people of colour, where all staff are comfortable and able to contribute their unique talents and gifts;
engaging in training for senior leadership and members of the MCC Canada Board of Directors around white supremacy culture;
reanimating MCC’s Dismantling Oppression Team and implementing recommendations from this group;
continuing to advocate against structural injustices that contribute to ongoing marginalization.
We recognize that this statement is insufficient and does not address all the experiences and concerns of our staff, constituents and partners around the world. We are committed to this being the first in a series of reflections about MCC’s work, internally and externally, as we continue to address issues related to racial injustice. We aspire to actively work toward a better way forward as we listen, learn and embrace members of our organization in the hope of achieving equity for all.
We recognize that we cannot do this alone and call on partner organizations to work with us to stand and advocate for justice in Canada.