A DAY OF LAMENT, CONFESSION, GRIEVING

I am grieving today. Death of a black man for no reason – a tweeting President – riots in our cities – COVID-19.

Lord, we have made a mess of your creation and our relationship with each other. I fall to my knees is lament and confession. This is us and not You. I long for the new creation. Until then, use me / us as vessels of redemption / liberation / love made visible in Jesus and given by Him to us to reveal and make real in our generation. AMEN.

FROM Superintendent Michael Traylor (2020 05 28):

A friend of mine mentioned, in regards to the George Floyd murder, that it seems that violence against people of color appears to be increasing.  My response is that it may be, but more likely, violence against people of color is simply being recorded more often.

The constant threat of violence hovers over Black, Brown, Asian and indigenous  men and women every day.  People of color are always framed as a threat to something, which justifies the violence.  From feeling “menaced” by my mere presence to being labeled disruptive and disrespectful by seeking to voice my experiences, I, and other people of color, are continually framed and re-framed as the problem.  WEB Dubois wrote about this over 100 years ago when he stated that the existence of African Americans can be summed up with the question of “How does it feel to be a problem?”.  

Videos capture horrendous violence and the response to the video by many is to blame the victim.  Social media spent hours talking about the character of Trayvon Martin, after all, if you have a criminal past, you certainly waive your right to eat skittles and walk on public sidewalks.  We spent time studying the motion of 12 year old Tamir Rice and reviewing his parents criminal records, convincing ourselves that he put the law enforcement officer in a situation where he feared for his safety.  Many spent hours focusing on the history of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri, without considering that 70% of all African-American adults in Ferguson, had a warrant for arrest in 2014 (Dept of Justice study).  The problem of a racist justice system that resulted in needless deaths, and incarcerations of people of color, is ignored by many who would rather demonize Michael Brown that confront the demons within.

The other equally anger-inducing response is for people to find a person who has similar demographics as the victim, who supports injustice or the problem-avoiding stance of the society as a whole to justify ongoing violence and degradation.  This is done while ignoring an entire community speaking the truth, often in the streets, and at great risk.

I once spoke to a pastor in my same denomination who told me that they could not support Black Lives Matter or even understand their viewpoint, because Black Lives Matter also advocates for members of LGBTQA communities.  Honestly, it was an excuse to use his more community-accepted homophobia to deflect from his white supremacy.  This is not new but it has been an ongoing pattern that keeps people from confronting the real problems, which we often are complicit with.  I know Church leaders who claim that they wouldn’t support any Civil rights movements in the 1960’s because MLK Jr was a womanizer.  In cases like that, invoking a morality code to avoid dealing with a moral crisis, is the crux of advocacy impotence.

I am writing this, because I am really tired of entertaining narrow paradigms designed to protect uncritically adopted fragilities.  Just because these cases are newly reported, they are not new to me and most people of color who have lived this.  While I am encouraged about an awareness to the problem, it is long past time to make justice not simply a part of our society, but the essence of our relationships with one another.  Greater than  a momentary reaction to something that has no connection to you other than trending on your twitter account or shown graphically on your facebook time line.  Living justly, means to live in a way where we are all connected, having equal worth and equal opportunities and understanding God’s desire for honoring all creation.

FROM Fuller Studio:

Dwight Radcliff on Black Pain (41:32)