INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Bridging generational gaps could be another way to bridge us all together. For a dozen years, the Scott United Methodist Church has tried to do that through its annual Generation 2 Generation Conferences.
News 8’s Katiera Winfrey spoke to church pastor James Anyike.
Rebuilding the Village is the theme for this year’s Generation 2 Generation Conference at Scott United Methodist Church. In a matter of months, the city of Indianapolis has seen an explosion of protests and a surge in violence. Anyike has been following it all, and said this year’s conference will in part touch on police-community relations, politics and arts and culture. He said even after a dozen years of conferences like this we still have a lot to do.
ANYIKE: It’s been a negative challenge in the sense that it’s hurting. Our hearts hurt. We are distressed in a lot more ways. We are that much more aware of the peril that we may fall into or trouble we might have a run into police. Some of us feel that way. And then there’s also some, there’s always going to be an issue of which is the best approach. How do we best deal with this? Do we rally, do we pray a vigil, do we sit in, do we riot? And so all of those kinds of things. And then you have the generation to generation no challenges. Right with one group, an elder group having one way to approach it and a younger group having another way to approach it. And many in between who don’t know what to do. And so I’m glad to see the positive aspects of it. So many people have turned their attention to supporting Black businesses. That’s key and important in this community or if the Black community across the country is going to improve and come out of some of the stress that we’re in. Is to support our own businesses and get the dollar circulating in our communities. It’s good that we are unified in ways that we haven’t been before. It’s good that there are more who are talking about systemic racism, not just Black folks, but I’m saying whites and others in ways that have never taken place in America. And so those are the kinds of things that I think are the positive. The fact that that there are some changes, that there’s more conversation and attention. And more people see the value of Black lives.
WINFREY: When you talk about the gaps, the differences in how generations approach systemic racism or racial injustice, talk about how this conference is an effort to bridge those different responses or those perspectives together.
ANYIKE: Two things. One thing is that this will be another opportunity for us to share a lot of our stories. A lot of the times we get a better understanding of each other when we share our stories. When the elders share their stories with the younger, and even with the youngers sharing their perspectives on life and their stories with the elder. And that’s beginning bridging the failure in communication gap. Because that’s the other thing that’s been happening over the last 40-50 years. We’ve grown a great gap in our ability to understand each other‘s language, what we’re saying or what we mean. And so this conference will, I believe, help us to share some stories. But it will also help us to gain some sense of how we can share values. What is it that we can do from one generation to the next to help rebuild the village? Which is the theme of this conference, rebuilding the village. So how can we share our different positions and vitality as young people, our wisdom as elders. How can we share those things and come together on the same values and then make a difference in our church, our community, and our world?
WINFREY: You have a lot of people who are making moves as a result of the spark but you have been in the business of opening those lines of communication for a dozen years now. How does it feel to see so many others jumping on the path your church has been following or your community has been following for so long?
ANYIKE: Well, it’s certainly affirmation. We need some times to be reaffirmed that you’re moving in the right direction, you’re doing the right things. And to hear a lot of people saying the things we’ve been saying for years and doing some of the same programs or trying to do some of the same programs that we’ve been doing for some time is encouraging and motivating. The more people we have who take on these causes and get involved the better. There is more than enough room for all of us and the need is greater than we can probably ever fulfill.
WINFREY: You talk about the generational gaps. You have a lot of people or older generations who are very opposed to violence, very opposed to rioting or even protest to a certain degree. But then you have a group of young folks who are ready to go out and really cause some damage if necessary. How is it bridging those gaps or having those conversations to come to an agreement on how to respond? Or are you of the mindset you respond how you see fit for you?
ANYIKE: Well first of all, from where I sit and I think, I keep my ear to the ground pretty good. But from where I sit and what I see, actually this situation has not caused a gap; its caused us to come together. Because now there are some elders who would have probably been more about marching in the past who are ready to go get their gun. And you have some younger folk who look at the rioting and they say, why are they tearing up everything? So you have a mixture of perspectives across the generations. So if there’s anything we understand it’s yes, there is going to be some who differ but I think this situation, this time of reflecting on who we are as Americans and who we are as Black folk in America has really brought us together. I think that actually this has helped increase our understanding of the generations and given us a point of reference that we can come together on. Because our elders are going to tell the stories, we’ve been going through this forever. And the younger can then tell their stories about how they’ve been going through the same thing.
WINFREY: A lot of people may see the George Floyd killing as the spark that pushed this along. But I’ve heard so many people say while that may be the latest spark or one of the latest sparks, you just mentioned this has been going on for a long time. Longer than you and I have been alive. What do you say to people to just drive home the fact that … don’t let this one thing be the only thing that motivates you, look at years and years of this to continue to motivate you to move forward?
ANYIKE: Some people may use Trayvon Martin as their reference point or Tamir Rice and so many other killings have taken place that some people may just really get involved when it hits home close to them. So my thing is let’s continue to grow this, take advantage of this time when people are saying or giving some sense of the value of Black lives. I think it’s a good conversation for us to have internally but also for the country to have. And I’m glad to see that even in our national politics there is a great effort to deal with these issues and really put in place some substantive changes. And so I’m hoping that these changes will continue to be impacted by the conversations in the involvement of young people, old people, all spectrums of the Black community, so that we can really carry this beyond the time where it’s focused on in the media and beyond until the time that we really put in place something that’s important for the generations to come.