A Sea of White Shining in the Sun
God gave Tamilikia Foster a vision of a peaceful protest that celebrated life from beginning to end. Change was inspired and many were made more aware by the silent sit-in against racism God created through her.
As a black woman that spent her early years in inner city Chicago, Tamilikia has experienced racism throughout her life. In her current profession as a Labor and Delivery nurse at a Lansing hospital, her patients routinely mistake her as a tech instead of a nurse and ask her to perform tasks like emptying the trash. She’s happy to help by emptying the trash but it hurts to know that she’s being judged by the color of her skin. She also endures racism from hospital management and administration. Racial slurs are thrown around casually with no consequences. Occasionally,Tamilikia is not allowed to care for an infant because of the parent’s racism. In one of these instances, she was responsible for catching a life-threatening condition and procuring care for a baby that she was not allowed to care for. Tamilikia has considered leaving her job for an employer that celebrates her skill and dedication but she stays put to fight the battle for black women that arrive on the scene after her.
Tamilikia has experienced several instances of mistreatment from the police rooted in racism. Seven months pregnant and lost in an unfamiliar town in Michigan, she was pulled over for no reason. The police approached her with guns drawn and demanded that she exit her car. She complied and they asked her, “Where are the bazookas!?” Tamilikia didn’t realize they were talking about high-powered rifles. She thought maybe they were referring to bubble gum and she replied with “What’s a bazooka? Are you talking about bubble gum?” Tamilikia was visibly in the third trimester of pregnancy but that didn’t stop the police from slamming her head against the hood or illegally searching her car. She bled from her injuries and they were treated at a hospital. The police found nothing and she was released with no citations.
Tamilikia sees a desperate need for change in our society. The activist didn’t appreciate the violent and chaotic undertones of some of the marches and protests she’s attended. Racial injustice infuriates Tamilikia but she believes there are more effective ways to precipitate change. She desired to see marches and protests done differently but wasn’t sure how to make it happen. Tamilikia believes that people don’t typically listen to her because of her kind and meek personality. She muted her voice for years because she suspected nobody would listen to her.
God has been important to Tamilikia since she was a little girl. She believes that God talks to people and listens to them. Tamilikia says, “God is love. Religion is difficult but loving God is easy.” Her faith keeps her grounded, gives her hope, and a reason to persevere. After the recent death of George Floyd, God gave her a vision and a mission. He called Tamilikia to organize a peaceful protest so that He could amplify her humble voice. God gave her a vision and a mission.
One night as she slept, she dreamed of a sea of white shirts at the capitol in Lansing. A variety of speakers on a stage shined like the sun. A loud booming voice calling, “Tamilikia, Tamilikia…” woke her from the dream. God brought the same vision to her mind’s eye several times a day for over a week. Whether she slept during the day or at night, she had the same dream. She would experience the vision at work while she was caring for children. She was consumed by the vision whether she was wake or asleep. She knew God was telling her to organize the protest she dreamed about. Tamilikia didn’t know how to get started but she submitted to God’s plan and pledged to be obedient.
Tamilikia reached out to a couple organizations and churches with hope that they would partner with her. None of them returned her calls. She shared her frustration with a friend and that friend encouraged her to keep working at it. Her friend said, “God wants YOU to do it, not them!” God continued to speak to Tamilikia. He told her that he appreciated her obedience and reminded her that he was near. “Trust me and keep talking to me,” God told her. God reminded her that she was fearfully and wonderfully made and bought at a great price. “Tamilkia, you can show them better than you can tell them,” He said to her.
God brought two helpers alongside Tamilikia. Next, she learned how to book the capitol for a protest. Scheduling the protest came with unexpected challenges. Rain was in the forecast for the only available date. The protest would be a bust if it rained but God reminded her not to lean on her own understanding. Tamilikia trusted God to be in charge of the weather. She did her part by praying and fasting. With God’s strength and endurance, Tamilikia eventually leaped several hurdles in the way of planning the protest.
Tamilkia was blessed to see her vision come to life on June 27, 2020. The leaders wore yellow t-shirts, representing a shining light toward a brighter future. Other people wore white t-shirts representing peace and people that have passed from racism, police brutality, and other forms of violence that always accompany oppression. The “Silent Sit-in Against Racism” was a representation of life from beginning to end. It opened with celebrating through dancing and singing. A variety of art and music were shared. The protest ended with 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence; the same amount of time it took for George Floyd to be murdered by those sworn to serve and protect in Minneapolis. Many asked why the protest ended with silence. Tamilkia reminded them that George Floyd’s life also ended with many unanswered questions and encouraged people to use the silence to reflect.
City leadership told Tamilikia that they saw other protests but listened to the one she organized at the capitol on June 27. They thanked her for the opportunity to consider so many intelligent and peaceful voices. The Lansing Police Department has incorporated several changes to the way it police’s it’s citizens. The Police are no longer allowed to execute no-knock warrants. Drivers will no longer be stopped for minor infractions. The police department is working on implementing bias training and making more counseling available for the police officers. Officers are no longer permitted to put their knees on people’s necks or wrestle them to the ground by their necks. Tamilkia is pleased with these changes but won’t be satisfied until more apologies are freely given and people judge her based on her character instead of the color of her skin. The activist believes that police officers should live in the jurisdiction where they serve and she would like to see the educational process for becoming a police officer overhauled and restructured.
Tamilkia is inspired by Luke 15:4 which says, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” She considers all oppressed populations, including black people in America, to be the lost sheep that need to be pursued and given an opportunity to flourish. Tamilikia Foster is currently working on a themed protest that will honor the life and beautiful character of Elijah McClain. She is also leading a new diversity committee at the hospital where she works.
Click here to see more footage from from June 27. Click here to read more about the details of the protest. Tamilikia Foster can be reached by phone at (517) 894–9102.
~written by Erica Munchbach