By Conference Minister Diane Weible
I’m no Siskel and Ebert. And I don’t get the whole Rotten Tomatoes thing.
But, I know a must-see movie when I, well, when I see one. “The Hate You Give” is that movie.
During the Authorized Ministers Retreat a couple of weeks ago I had a chance to talk about my Doctor of Ministry Project which addresses white privilege and the danger of a single narrative. In the conversation that followed someone talked about how the only way to really get out of our own story is to start listening and experiencing stories different from our own and asked the question, “What movies do we go see? What books do we read?”
The main actor in this movie, Starr, is a young woman who feels like she is two different people—the Starr who lives in a predominantly black and poor neighborhood and the person she calls “Starr 2” who goes to school in a predominantly white and rich school.
There are so many different directions I can go in talking about this movie but that is not the point of this particular article. The point is that until we (especially those of us who are aware of our own privilege) start seeing movies like this, having conversations with people with stories different than our stories, and exposing ourselves to that which in our heads seems hard to believe, nothing will ever change.
At several points in the movie I cried. Yes, it was sad and tragic. And, it was not the only reason I cried. I cried because I knew how it was more than a movie but something that happens to people every day and something I knew I would never experience in my own life. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this kind of story but I absorbed the Carter family story in a deeper way because I was watching it happen in front of me. Every time I open my world to another story I open my heart and my mind to embody the racism and oppression and injustice in our world.
Below this column is a link to a statement released yesterday by the United Church of Christ condemning the current Administration’s attempt to “define gender as either male or female, established by genitalia at birth, and unalterable throughout a person’s life.” The very first sentence of the letter says, “Long before national policies acknowledged the spectrum of gender expression, the United Church of Christ embraced the Imago Dei in every human being.”
God does not look like any one individual and it is not our job to determine what God should look like. If we believe the Imago Dei is in every individual then what God looks like spans every gender, race, ethnicity, gender identity, ability and class. No one has a right to put walls up around Imago Dei.
It is our job to read stories, listen to experiences and encounter realities that are different from our own so we can begin to see the truth in this statement. At the very end of the movie Starr has a line that summed up for me the work that I know I want to focus on: “I’m going to keep on being Starr, no version 2. My daddy says my name gives me my own super power and I’m going to keep on using it to light up the darkness.”