Several years ago a coaching client sat across the table from me and asked, “If I’m not doing equity work the way they are doing it [with edge, relentlessly, mercilessly], am I doing it wrong?” (This was before “We Will Not Cancel Us“.)

Last year as I was preparing to lead a Change Team meeting with folks who mistrusted and disparaged my theory of change, I ran through a cadre of somatic practices to quiet my shaking hands. All the while, I had been asking myself the same question my client had asked me.

I know something inside my spirit that does not translate well outside my mouth.

I believe in love.

I believe in Love.

I believe in LOVE.

As I hear the violins crescendo in my ear with smarmy music, my insides constrict and my mind begins with “the buts”:

  • but I don’t mean that kind of love
  • but I don’t mean I’m not fierce
  • but I don’t mean I won’t tell you about yourself
  • but that doesn’t mean I love and care for you more than I love and care for myself
  • but I’m not a punk…Uncle Tom…sellout…Oreo (and all the other words we use to gatekeep one another)

Elders and colleagues have offered interpretation as well:

Dr. Cornel West shares: “Justice is what love looks like in public, just like tenderness is what love feels like in private.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr clarifies: “What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”

Reverend angel Kyodo williams asserts: “love and justice are not two. Without inner change, there can be no outer change; without collective change, no change matters.”

Megan Madison declares: “Love is very motivating and is the only sustainable antidote to fear that I know of.”

Dr. Pat Romney asks: “Can you love them enough?

There are so many times during the work of seeking justice that I feel uncomfortable, that you will feel uncomfortable, but let’s not confuse comfort and safety. Safety comes first. That is love.

There are many times when the pace “make me wanna holler“. It’s too slow, too stilled, too staccato. Folks are too intellectualized while others perish. I know when to shout and when to whisper. When to push, pull, or leave a map and a compass. That is love.

There are some times when I wish for another calling. I am concerned that those who share the goal of equity want to stand in the middle of the road and fight about how to arrive, often employing the same methods that have been used to dehumanize so many over the centuries. As those who oppose our goal have the resources and power to obscure their intentions, amplify confusion and capitalize on our aversion to painful truths, I remember that we antiracist marathoners are all needed to arrive and I stand among all who share my goals–those offering heat and those offering light– with love.


There are so many lessons that I have yet to learn. Some of the early lessons, which I rejected, are coming back toward me now (sometimes repackaged), and I am now ready to accept them. I don’t allow my pride or shame to cause me to push them away again. As I reach the midpoint in my life, I realize that I will not get to learn all that I hope to. I am differently ready now…because of love.

There are people I have been taught to mistrust who are the most loyal of friends and the most steadfast in “stumbling upwards” to live their vision that the inherent value and dignity of all human beings be seen and respected. There are those I’ve been told to trust who …have not earned my trust and who have un-earned my trust. I spend as much time as possible in Cross’ Internalization-Commitment stage. Little by slowly, I have found my people…through love.

Yesterday, a colleague, Rev. Jason Craig Harris wrote: “I am a midwife for change, an incubator of healing, a vehicle for love and possibility.” As someone who was delivered by a midwife, as someone who midwifed my first spouse’s death, as someone who has experienced debilitating illness followed by deep transformative healing, his profession resonated with me.

Turning to the Torah, I hear the words of my heart:

Deuteronomy Chapter 6, from

My colleague Rabbi Andrea Goldstein shared the following midrash with our cohort last week. She said that the words are “upon our hearts” rather than in our hearts is because they are poised to be incorporated once our hearts open.

And you shall love! וְאָהַבְתָּ

And you shall love! וְאָהַבְתָּ

And you shall love! וְאָהַבְתָּ

Published by Imani Chapman

soy escritora, educadora y mamá

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