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Who let the elephant out?

The phrase “the elephant in the room,” means an issue that those present know exists but does not talk about, such as a member of the family being an alcoholic. If we fail to acknowledge the elephant’s existence, the problem that the elephant symbolizes does not go away but grows taking up the oxygen.

Institutional racism is one of those elephants. Thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, that elephant is now out of the room. Unfortunately, this elephant roams the streets looking for places to continue undisturbed. Some, purposely or unwittingly, give the elephant refuge, camouflaging it, so we will not notice it. Blaming the victims of institutional racism, for example. Banning books that address racism is another. Or giving out band aides when surgery is needed.

I believe with this elephant now out of the room and becoming more understood and exposed, we have a chance. I am blessed to be in a book club studying chapter by chapter The 1619 Project, created by Nicole Hannah-Jones. This is a deep dive into history while we share our personal experiences and observations about ongoing injustices created by those origins.

The Riverton Peace Mission must work to make sure that the elephant named Institutional Racism does not find comfort hiding out in Riverton. Exposure is hard work that requires focus but will be so liberating to those oppressed. When the elephant is exposed, it cannot be ignored.

To learn more, register for our Zoom event Thursday, January 5th, 7 pm to talk about this elephant that causes so much harm to Indigenous peoples and other people of color. Lillian Zuniga from Cheyenne has agreed to facilitate a conversation about institutional racism. Plan to join us.

You can help us combat institutional racism right now by signing our petition to call on the Riverton City Council to address racism that is impacting our city.

I will close with a quote from Deitrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian theologian who was hung in a concentration camp in Germany in 1945 for his resistance to the Nazis: “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice; we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build relationships. Do justice.

Chesie Lee

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