Get to Know Our Associate Fellows for Racial Justice
To help you get to know our new Associate Fellows for Racial Justice, we asked Micky and Darren to share some of their personal journey, what’s fueled their passion for justice and informed the work they’re called to today. Here’s what they have to say:
Micky ScottBey Jones
I am the mother of three children. Two of whom are boys. Black boys. One of these boys becomes a teenager this month. My children have always been my most challenging and relentless teachers. When I was a young woman, they taught me how to relinquish my rigid self-scheduling, as every hour of the day became subject to the rhythms of feeding and rocking and napping. Each one taught me how little this professionally-degreed, child-development expert knew about raising each individual child. They taught me that while books may impart knowledge, children can bestow wisdom.
When another woman’s son’s life became a national symbol of the fear of and violence toward Black children, I learned another lesson. I learned that it was my turn to take up the call to make the world safer, healthier, more peaceful, more just and more equitable for all children—specifically through the lifting of oppression from the most marginalized. In the weeping of Sybrina Fulton over her son Trayvon, I saw myself. I saw my boys. I did not want to wait until I was weeping over my own boy’s body to take up my cross of faith-rooted activism. I was ready to put my belief in a Jesus who challenged the elite and wept over the dead into action that would bring more shalom into the world.
What are the children teaching us? The children of Flint who have no clean water? The children of Chicago dying of gun violence? The children incarcerated and left to rot in private prisons? The children deported back to desolate and violent countries? They are teaching us about justice that can only be revealed from the margins, from being among the poor, sick, dying, and imprisoned. They are teaching us that their freedom to play, to drink water, and simply to live is connected to my freedom to play, drink, and live. My shalom is your shalom is the earth’s shalom. For that reason, I am answering the call to lift my voice and march my feet until, in the words of Amos, justice rolls on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.
Growing up as a kid on the South Side of Chicago, I recall school being a place of mixed feelings. On one hand, I loved learning; being the child of an award-winning educator and professional computer geek meant that exploring creative ideas came naturally. On the other hand, I often struggled to perform well in school and to be accepted by my peers. What was pivotal in changing all this for me was the impact of people who, in spite of how I performed in school, identified and believed in my potential. Those influencers instilled in me the understanding that our relationships can impact others in good ways and that this influence could someday change the world.
Fast forward to my early adult years. In college while studying to become an educator, I found myself deeply connected to an effort to improve the neighborhood around the church I was a part of at the time. What began as a simple effort to improve the community around 79th Street and Ashland Avenue evolved into a comprehensive effort to make systemic and social changes that would benefit everyone. In the process, I learned that our neighborhood wasn’t “bad” simply because “bad people” lived in it. I learned about how economic disenfranchisement devastated our homes, schools, businesses, and streets. I learned how policing and corrections policy created a never-ending cycle of desperation and crime. I saw firsthand how key events in our history lead to current conditions and how all of these things involved both subtle and overt racialized factors. Harnessing the collaborative effort of church leaders, community residents, police, businesses, and schools, we were able to make significant changes that benefited the entire community. I now know that together we can create change.
Since that time, my lens for justice issues has been ever-expanding. I now use intersectionality to describe the way systems of privilege and disprivilege interlock and can increase or diminish oppression. No matter what the issue is, various social factors—race, gender, economic status—have been used as tools for oppression. When we begin to expose, understand, and work against these systems, authentic change can happen. My ongoing efforts are to mobilize people—particularly believers—to take action against injustice. I believe that when we work together, we can indeed make the world a better place.