Responding to Racism
In his speech, The Other America, Dr. Martin Luther King asks, “A riot is the language of the unheard. What is it that America has failed to hear?” The murder of yet another unarmed black man has driven our nation—already highly anxious over COVID-19—to extremes.
There is much in America that we have failed to hear.
We hear that Mr. George Floyd was murdered because he was black. What we are failing to hear is that he was lynched. We are failing to hear that white supremacy and systematic racism are really to blame here—not a black man. The focus of our language needs to change. Mr. Floyd was murdered because of racism. This is not to deny his blackness. It is to challenge white privilege. We may ask ourselves: “Do Black lives matter?”
I will not insult people of color by presuming to know what it’s like to live in fear whether—or when—I’m going to be detained and then attacked, and whether my son will return home, or not, on any given day. I will not pretend to know what it’s like to be overpoliced but underprotected, to be underserved and underrepresented by a long list of historically systematic entities, of which most people of privilege cannot even name.
We hear that our Sacred Scriptures have much to say in regard to justice and mercy, particularly to those in positions of power. What we fail to hear is that seeking justice is not the sole responsibility of the oppressed. The cornerstone and guiding principle of every religious system is for those who are able to ease pain and suffering to do so. When the unheard must riot for their own justice, we have failed.
We have failed to hear that our inability and unwillingness to heal the deep wound of racism in our nation is our failure. It is now time to hear that our failure is our call to action. To prepare us for the journey toward healing and reconciliation, I suggest the following:
- Donate to bail funds for peaceful protesters, small businesses and the Black Lives Matter movement:
- Educate yourself:
- “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo
- “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” by James Cone
- “Dear White Christians” by Jennifer Harvey
- Join the protest or talk to a protester
Look, if we can launch a rocket into space, we can be a collective force for good and begin the hard work of reconciliation. It may seem tough because it is, but God never promised life would be easy. God’s promise is to be with us until the end of time.
It's a Time for Prayer
I've posted lists on the wall of my office at home of everyone I know and love, including you--the members and friends of Edgebrook Community Church. I pray for every one of you by name every morning when I wake up, and every night before I turn in. I remember especially those who must work in public settings--grocery and retail workers, all those in healthcare. All those whose income is threatened, those whose living situations are precarious, and since there are a few women in my life who are pregnant, I pray for them as well.
Since we cannot be the church in person, it is even more important that we be the church in other ways. I invite you to join me in praying for our sisters and brothers by name every day.
Although we do not know what the future holds, we know who holds the future. May you know the love of God and the comfort of those around you in these uncertain times.