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.”

Published by Vanessa Greene

I am the Associate Dean of Students/Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Hope College. Diverse Perspectives is intended to give voice to a number of critical issues in society pertaining all areas of diversity.

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