A Tribute to Women |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES
Chicago is about to make history again, this time in a positive way. The next mayor of America’s third largest city will be a woman. Residents of the Windy City will vote in a runoff election on April 2 to place either Lori Lightfoot or Toni Preckwinkle in the mayor’s chair that is being vacated by Rahm Emanuel, who decided not to seek reelection. Both women are African American, meaning that an African American woman will be Chicago’s next mayor.
The idea of a woman in leadership was foreign until recently. Indeed, in this country women were only permitted to vote approximately 100 years ago. Today, however, women are in corporate offices, government mansions, board rooms, and mayoral suites around the world. Women have proven that, when given the same privileges and opportunities as men, they can perform just as skillfully and competently. Be that as it may, women are still treated as second-class citizens in disturbingly large numbers around the world, and they are openly and wantonly discriminated against in many places.
Women of color are particularly prone to experience discrimination, and it has been asserted that the only social role in the United States more challenging than that of an African American woman is that of an African American man. Stereotyped as promiscuous and highly sexualized, black women continue to be miscast as disposal commodities whose value is solely derived from their subservient status and service.
The truth is that women of color have shown that they are people of strength and endurance who have adapted and recreated themselves throughout their sojourn in the west. Black women have survived and thrived due to their innovation and ingenuity. They have provided their men and children with support and leadership in trying times and dire straits, and African American history would ring hollow were black women to be expunged from the record.
For the Christian, Jesus is the example as to how women should be treated. When Jesus lived on earth, women were regarded and treated as property. They had little, if any, rights, existing in silence and shame on the margins of society. Jesus struck a blow to how the society of His day felt about women by speaking with and touching them in public, keeping company with them, including and partnering with them in ministry, and empowering them for service (Luke 8:45-55; Luke 10:38-42; John 4:1-30). Not to be overlooked is the fact that women were the first to behold and proclaim Jesus as the risen Lord (John 20:1-18).
Women are the unsung heroes of the church and society. Like the biblical characters Mary and Martha, women are using the enrichment they receive at the feet of Jesus to share the good news of salvation with sensitivity and passion. Women are indispensable to the optimal impact of the church, significantly contributing to its efficiency and effectiveness in untold and unmeasured ways.
As you may or may not know, March is Women’s History Month. Let’s affirm the women in our homes, congregations, and communities. Better yet, let’s treat them with equality and dignity.
R. Clifford Jones