On the eve of their departure from South Africa, the 2014-2015 YAGM-SA group prepared this statement as a collective statement about their ongoing commitment to address and work against racism. This was a culmination of a year of of conversations, learning, and commitments. It is a testimony to the reality that while the YAGM year is a year of service, it also lasts for a lifetime. Blessings on your future work, YAGM-SA 2014-2015! Thank you for your call to action!
We are nine young adults. We are a cow girl, an athlete, a runner, a dancer, a hippy, a square, a city girl and a cook.
We are nine young adults who share an American identity. We are four White women, two Black women, one Asian man, two White men.
We are nine young adults seeking to be God’s hands. For the last year we have served through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa.
We are nine young adults carrying nine different stories of Southern Africa. All of our stories include experiences of race and moments of racism. Racism: conscious and unconscious, directed towards us or through us, institutional and personal.
We are nine young adults carrying nine different stories of America. Leaving this home and returning to the home we once knew, we will see through new eyes. The shared elements of history have not gone unnoticed and we wish to cement our commitment to racial justice, to contribute to the process of healing, as we return to a country with as strong a history of racism as the one we are leaving.
We are nine young adults who know that the conversation only begins here. No one story can define one of us, nine of us, Southern Africa, the US, a people, all people, God. We believe that the church is one of many institutions that must transform and reform. We are calling on those who sent us, those who received us, raised us, taught us, welcomed us, loved us, baptized us, to listen for the unheard stories of racism and respond with compassion.
We are nine young adults with more identities and visions than we can count, some we share, some we do not. We are nine young adults moving from conversation to action. Amen.