Over 500 years ago, European Americans kidnapped Africans and forced them into chattel slavery. The torture, brutality and killing of Black bodies by White power systems created a level of fear and oppression that can never be fully understood if you have not walked in the shoes of Black people. After slavery, new forms of hate and torture emerged to keep Blacks in their place. During my grandparents and parent’s generations, lynchings were common and enforced upon Black people if they dared step out of line in the slightest way. Our parents feared for our lives and taught us in the strictest way to avoid any altercations with White people. As I came of age and got married, I was afraid to have kids, as the only two options I saw for most Black people was to be killed or arrested. Eventually, after four years of marriage, I decided to have children who have had countless experiences with racism. As I talk to them and their peers, they are either afraid for the lives of their children, especially those with sons or afraid to have kids, because things have not changed. This summer alone, through various forms of social media, we have witnessed a new form of lynching of our brothers and sisters and everyday it becomes harder and harder for us to breathe. The recent shooting of Jacob Blake seven times in the back in the presence of his three young children has left me emotionally distraught, once again.
My heart cries out, “God help us Please” and end this nightmare for the Black community. As one kid said, “I just want to live.” From slavery to present, we have lived in fear, so please, White people, stop projecting your sins unto us.. Speak the truth and condemn this violence against Black and Brown bodies, not just in corporate statements, but by advocating and challenging the system that allows this injustice to persist. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his infamous, “I Have a Dream” Speech, “we can never be satisfied as long as the negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”
America is faced with two pandemics. The pandemic of COVID-19 and the pandemic of racism. Where we choose to stand on both issues will inevitably define the future of our country. It is my hope that we will stand for righteousness and justice. Jeremiah 22:3 calls us to “ do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. And do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”
Due to all the recent events unfolding in our nation, we can’t imagine how you are feeling. Therefore we held a town hall meeting on Wednesday, June 3 at 1 pm to provide an outlet for the community to come together. President Scogin was a part of the town hall meeting to express his concern for all of us.
We care about you and are praying for you during this time of anger, confusion, and anxiety, as God will have the final word.
did peaceful protests ever change the course of deep-rooted oppression?
The Civil Rights Act of 1968 was passed after
MLK’s assassination. After the Holy Week Uprising – a week of massive civil disturbance in more
than 100 cities in the US, the greatest wave of social unrest the US experienced
since the Civil War. Colonialism in Africa ended after years of armed uprisings
against white european colonialists. Slavery in the US ended because of the
Civil War. The holocaust ended because of WWII. You know who abhors violence
the most? Oppressed groups. Violent acts are often the last resort. “We know through painful experience that
freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the
oppressed.” – MLK Jr.
White people explaining MLK’s activism to
black people is very condescending.
Quoting MLK to deter justice today is a systemic racial tool. When you
compare MLK’s work to what is happening now, what exactly are you asking black
people to do? Be subjected to police brutality and racial inequalities while
they turn the other cheek? Stop glamorizing the Civil Rights Movement. It was
incredibly hard on black people in a way that you will never understand. The
Civil Rights Movement was not as peaceful as popular narratives will have you
believe as white people were incredibly violent against African Americans –
bombing, lynching, pressured water hoses, attacks by dogs, etc. In fact, MLK
changed his view on non-violence towards the end of his life. His family has
spoken about it. It’s 2020. Black
people have held peaceful protests, marched, utilized the media, influential
people have spoken up, used legislation, advocated for affirmative action, yet
we still keep getting murdered. The kind of outrage you are feeling because of
the protests is the kind of outrage black people need every time you see racism
It is not your choice to determine how an
oppressed group protests. Riots feel uncomfortable because they are
uncomfortable. Racism is UNCOMFORTABLE. When as a white person you say
“violence is not the answer” you are saying “peaceful protests and negotiation
are the answer”. You are DENYING the fact that oppressed and marginalized
groups often aren’t heard. When you say “black people are using this as an
excuse to loot”, it takes the spotlight off the real issue and further
reinforces the stereotypes around minorities. It also denies the reality
evidenced by videos of white people and police looting and destroying property
during protests that have been circulating across all media platforms. Implying
there are other ways to protest minimizes the frustration and provides no
answers, or solutions. It points with privilege, to do things a different way
that doesn’t disturb your comfort. George Floyd died because people were trying
to follow the law and negotiate peacefully. Riots are not the problem. They are
a symptom of the problem. If it’s difficult for you to understand why people
resort to violence, it probably means your privilege has protected you from
being put in a situation where you feel you have no other choice. Violent protests have consequences. People
will die, people will go to jail, people will lose everything they have. Before
giving your unsolicited advice on what’s the “right way” to protest, consider
this: How far does someone have to be pushed to risk it all? Sit with that.
As someone wrote:
It’s horrible that an innocent black man was killed, but destroying property
has to stop.
this instead: It’s horrible that property is being
destroyed, but killing innocent black men has to stop.
Placing more value on property over black
lives and black dignity (just like slave owners and colonialists) is inherently
racist. Property can be replaced, life cannot. Riots can be prevented by
stopping the murders and racial injustices.
On “not all police…”
Being pro-black doesn’t mean being
anti-police. Saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that all other lives don’t
matter. including blue lives. It means that those other lives ALREADY matter,
but black lives aren’t valued the same. Consider the following questions:
Why is this country so clear that looting is wrong, but is unclear about what should happen to a police officer who takes a person’s life?
Who do the police protect? Who do they serve? Not theoretically but actually. Why did Amy Cooper (and all other Karens) believe that she should call the cops in hysterics on Christian Cooper?
What happens when the police take a life? What should happen?
Why is it possible for the police to stay calm when white people are armed, screaming, threatening but treat diverse protestors as dangerous?
Please stop shifting the narrative from racial
injustice to how not all police are bad. We have seen feel-good pictures of
police officers march with us, kneel with us, and give moving speeches all over
the internet. All that is cute but this fight requires more than that. It
requires courage from those good cops – courage to actively challenge and fight
a system that hurts black people. This fight is not about shaming law
enforcement. It’s about systemic racism. It’s about injustice. It’s about the
lack of accountability.
On performative activism/allyship +
surface level safe response:
Culture – How much overt white supremacy &
anti-black violence did non-black people need to be presented with to start
caring and speaking up? What finally humanised black people for you? Staring at
a black man in the eyes for 9 minutes as life left his body? Was your decision
to become an ally sudden even though white supremacy has been present since the
founding of this country? It doesn’t go unnoticed that the scale of response to
Floyd’s death has been amplified by trending culture. Will you go back to your “normal life” of complicity and silence
after the hype is gone? Performative allyship doesn’t help the movement.
as just ignorance – When racist people are caught in
the act, they often excuse their behavior with ignorance. THIS.IS.A.LIE. Amy
Cooper hysterically called the cops on Christian Cooper specifying that “an
African American” man was threatening her and her dog understanding very well
the relationship between cops and African American men (assumed white innocence
and black guilt), and the power and privilege she has as a white woman.
as a “heart problem” –
This rhetoric is common among some groups of christians who believe the
only way to address racial injustice is by converting people to christianity
and that racism will end with Jesus’ second coming.
politics – The idea that conformity to socially acceptable/mainstream
standards of appearance and behavior will protect members of an oppressed group
from prejudices and systemic oppression e.g. when black elites/ leaders “uplift
the race” by correcting “bad” traits of the black poor. This does nothing but
shift the blame from oppressors to the oppressed.
Paternalism – This is where white people feel like they have the right to define
what is good and right for black people.
signalling – Is your call for justice motivated by the
need to not be seen as racist/complicit to racism? To be seen as “woke”? To
make an impression that grants you approval?
posturing – Calls for justice motivated solely by religious
White supremacy is powerful and ugly. Fighting
it demands a lot of emotional labour and ACTIONABLE STEPS. You can’t choose
justice and the status quo. You can’t support racial justice without risk.
Being actively anti racist means challenging and resisting the status quo. It
means troubling the waters. It means challenging leadership, management,
boards, executives, donors and all other movers and shakers who uphold and/or
are complicit of white supremacy.
This fight asks us to be truly informed about
the injustices we chose to stand against. We need to truly understand the
history of white supremacy and how it continues to play out today – within
ourselves, our families and friends, our workplaces, our religious communities
etc. – and take one more step of facing our contribution to it.
This fight asks white folks to acknowledge
white privilege. To realize that the oppressive system at play is designed to
benefit them. The system that makes it okay for a police officer to murder a
man that he vowed to protect. The system that gives him the audacity to murder
a black man begging for his life, for his mama. The shameless system that
allows him to lynch in broad daylight. The system that delays and/or denies justice
to George Floyd, Breonne Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery + countless other black people.
As you acknowledge your white privilege, ask yourself how you can use it to
contribute to #BlackLivesMatter
We need to understand how we continue to
perpetuate racist systems and power structures by denying and silencing
uncomfortable, honest narratives; and picking and choosing facts that make us
the most comfortable.
The fight demands consistency. Are you living
out in real life what you are posting on social media? If you are in a position
to give financially, are you putting your resources where your mouth is? If you
are in a position of power, does your leadership – demographics, policies,
language, culture etc. – reflect the message you are preaching?
Silence sends a message. Silence is loud.
Silence says you prioritize your comfort, your social safety, your white
privilege, your white sanctity – your connections to whiteness. When it comes
to injustice, there is nothing like neutrality, non-interference, non-partisanship…
Inaction is injustice.
Let’s stay honest. Have you been racist or
complicit to racism? What have you done about it? How can you be better? When
you are called out, do you actually listen and take appropriate steps?
It is again my deep conviction that ultimately, a genuine
leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus. On some
positions, cowardice asks the question “is it safe?” Expediency asks the
question “is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But
conscience must ask the question, “Is it right?” And there comes a time when
one must take a stand that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular. But one
must take it because it is right.” – MLK Jr.
Gloria Lara, executive director of Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance (LEDA) hosted Vanessa Greene, Hope’s Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, on Facebook Live to speak candidly about racism in America.