If We Burn, You Burn With Us
By Marcella Brown
Vice President, Development & Communications
“If WE burn, YOU burn with us!”
How do wildfires on the West Coast cause poor air quality and hazy skies in the Midwest? If we burn, you burn with us.
How does a virus found in a small market in China cause a global pandemic that has infected more than 30 million people around the world and taken more than 950,000 lives? If we burn, you burn with us.
How does the merciless killing of an unarmed Black man by a police officer in Minneapolis, MN cause international protests in opposition to police brutality in communities of color, inequality and institutional racism.
If we burn, you burn with us! These are the words spoken by film character Katniss Everdeen, AKA “The Mockingjay” (Jennifer Lawrence) in the film series The Hunger Games. More fitting words for the current state of affairs in America were never spoken.
My name is Marcella, and I am the Vice President of Development & Communications at LMM. I have had the unfortunate experience of being the target of racial profiling. I have been overlooked for opportunities despite being the most qualified because my “Blackness” was too intimidating to people in positions of privilege and authority. I have witnessed police brutality against people of color in person, and have had the unnerving dilemma of watching this injustice play out on television, as I try to explain this repeating situation to my children over and over, and over again. I have sat in countless meetings where reports of social and racial disparities are shared, with no effective solution to undo the harmful effects of systems set up for us to fail. My community is burning, but what many people in America who are not members of the Black community do not realize is that you are burning with us.
What is most upsetting is not the daunting challenge of attempting to correct the unjust and biased systems that perpetuate inequality and racism. I firmly believe that where there is a will, there is a way. What is most upsetting is needing to build a “case for support” with members of non-Black communities who are not convinced that these disparities exist, that they cause harm to ALL Americans, and that things need to change.
In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere. If Black and Brown communities across America are burning from years of oppression and injustice, all communities across America will burn.
People of color, particularly Blacks and LatinX Americans, are living in a state of disparity and inequality in every sector, industry and field in the United States. Educational attainment. Access to affordable housing. Health outcomes. Wealth. Business ownership. Access to high-speed, reliable internet. Fill in the blank industry – the disparity is there as well.
An interesting trend is taking place across our country and will continue to take shape over the next 25 years. The Brookings Institute released a report in 2018 that states by the year 2045, White Americans will go from being the “majority” of our population to being the “minority”. If the leaders of our nation and our communities continue to make no corrective actions to right the wrongs of our past, what will become of our future?
If people of color become the majority, and the disparities persist, what will happen to society in America? How will we compete in the global economy without an equitably educated workforce? How will we support a state of health and well-being without equitably healthy citizens? How will we sustain our democracy without equitable civic engagement?
If communities of color are burning, all of America is burning. Will you stand by and let the future of our nation go up in flames, or will you use the resources that you have, the people you know, the conversations you engage in to put out the fires of systemic racism, social injustice and lack of accountability?
What I greatly appreciate about working at LMM is that we uphold the biblical mandate to seek justice, love mercy and walk in humility. I hope that we can count on those who support our work to help us fight fires of hate, with living waters of justice.