I spent much of yesterday working on a part for the Sunday service. The service was about race relations and my part was addressing the inequalities and injustices racial minorities face in our country. I didn’t get around to blogging or doing my photo for the Lent project but was fully immersed in the subject of injustice.
A twenty was the largest bill lying around my house, but it represents hundreds of thousands of dollars. It represents the distribution of wealth in our country. For me, money is the most tangible symbol I have to represent injustice. We don’t all have equal access to money. Women are still paid less than men to do the same work. African-American men are less likely to be called back for a job interview, even if they have the same experience and education as a white applicant. Women and minorities have the highest poverty rates. Children of immigrants often drop out of school to work with their families as migrant farm workers. The people working these farms make very little – sometimes less than a dollar per hour for the physical labor they do in high temperatures. Due to the children having to drop out to work in the fields this cycle is likely continue another generation.
Money = Power. With money you have the power to move through this world without much disturbance from others. Heck you don’t even have to wait in line at amusement parks. Power=Privilege. We see this reflected in our justice system. How many celebrities go to jail when they commit a crime? How many people are incarcerated for “white collar” crime? Not very many. As Bran Stevenson says in his TED Talk, “We have a system of justice in [the US] that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes.”