By Karen Laslo and Lin Jensen
Dr. Lesa Johnson’s talk Sunday night at the 36th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration held in the sanctuary of Trinity United Methodist Church was titled “A Kind-hearted Deceit.” And its message may well have caused many of those present to squirm uncomfortably in their church pew seats, especially the white folks. In her talk, Johnson told the racially diverse audience to look deep into their own hearts and to question what they’ve done to alleviate the suffering of not just black people but all people of color. Again and again, she hammered home the point that it isn’t enough to simply be against racial injustice no matter how genuinely wholehearted your commitment to fairness and racial inclusion. Just having the right thoughts will make no real difference. Instead, you must first listen attentively to those among you who most suffer the injustice, for they alone can tell you what’s needed and what actions you can undertake. And then you must act; complacency will never effect change. Professor Johnson left no doubt that without a genuine understanding of the nature of the suffering and without actually doing something to alleviate the suffering, you are simply engaging in a “kind-hearted deceit.”
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