Every Thursday, I wear black.
A few years ago I saw a few people on Twitter posting photos of women dressed in black with the hashtag #ThursdaysInBlack. Church women in South Africa were making a public witness to bring awareness to the problem of rape and violence against women and children. They worked with their local churches to discuss these problems and end the silence and stigma that surround survivors of sexual assault.
I decided to join them and started wearing black on Thursdays. Somewhere – probably a United Methodist Women event – I picked up a #ThursdaysInBlack button. Then my younger daughter contacted me about a rape that occurred on her United Methodist related college campus. She was part of a protest movement on campus that wanted to raise awareness about the problem of rape and sexual assault on campus, and the difficulty victims were having navigating the Title IX process. I was proud to participate in #ThursdaysInBlack in support of my daughter and her friends, and took the opportunity to educate myself about the Title IX process and the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses in the United States. I invited other United Methodist clergywomen to join me in #ThursdaysInBlack and bought 500 pins from CABSA – Christian AIDS Bureau South Africa, to support the work of the women who inspired my first participation in this movement. I shared buttons at the World Methodist Conference and posted photos of all the beautiful Methodist women wearing black and their #ThursdaysInBlack buttons at the conference.
Recently I moved to a new area, which means learning as much as possible about my new city and county. In 2016 nearly 3,000 people were impacted by domestic violence, and five people died due to domestic violence. There is a Family Justice Center which works to reduce the number of offices to visit, people to tell what happened, and number of forms to fill out for persons affected by domestic violence. The center partners with local non-profits to work to end sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence. I’ve visited our local YWCA and support their work, which equips families, educates children and works to end racism and sexism.
1 Corinthians 12:26 says that if one part of the body suffers, all suffer together with it. Wearing black on Thursdays is a visible way to show solidarity with those who suffer. Educating yourself about sexual assault in your community is a way of living missionally, learning about the context in which you live. Supporting the work of organizations that work to eliminate rape, sexual assault, HIV/AIDS and racism are also part of the call to live as the body of Christ.
Learn more about CABSA here: http://cabsa.org.za/
Learn more about YWCA here: http://www.ywca.org