May We Do All in Our Power to Seek Justice for All
May 27, 2020
Dearly Beloved of the Mountain Sky Conference,
Grace to you and peace from God, our life-giver, Christ, our life-savior, and the Spirit, our life-connector.
I write to you with a heart filled with despair and anger over the continued injustices experienced by people of color.
James Cone, in The Cross and the Lynching Tree writes:
"White supremacy was and is an American reality. Whites lynched blacks in nearly every state, including New York, Minnesota, and California. Wherever blacks were present in significant numbers, the threat of being lynched was always real. Blacks had to “watch their step,” no matter where they were in America. A black man could be walking down the road, minding his business, and his life could suddenly change by meeting a white man or a group of white men or boys who on a whim decided to have some fun with a Negro; and this could happen in Mississippi or New York, Arkansas, or Illinois."
Within two days, we saw a white woman make an emergency call to the police, because a black man, who is a bird watcher, asked her to leash her dog, which was unleashed in a part of Central Park where dogs are required to be leashed. She kept repeating to the police that an “African American man” was threatening her. The implication was clear: because of his race, he was the guilty party, for simply being a black man in America.
A day later, police responded to a call regarding forgery. George Floyd was flung to the ground and a knee pressed against his neck. Even while he was crying out that he couldn’t breathe and bystanders were pleading for the man’s life, the knee remained until the man, shortly after crying for his mother, had his life snuffed out.
Lynchings continue in the United States of America.
As a white woman, I am aware that every time I walk out the door, my skin tone gives me a status and protection that my black and brown siblings are not afforded. I did nothing to earn that status and protection. Nor did they do anything to warrant not having the same status and protection. Racism was woven into the very foundation of this nation, when black men were considered 3/5ths of a white man, and indigenous people were labeled “savages”.
This racism continues through the maintenance of white supremacy. What does white supremacy look like? Recent news reports showed white men with military rifles marching through state capitols unimpeded by law enforcement, while unarmed black people were tear gassed for protesting George Floyd’s death. White communities are given medical supplies to combat COVID-19 while the Navajo Nation and other tribal nations suffer countless deaths from lack of supplies.
I do not have the privilege of saying, “But I am not a racist.” I am a part of a racist culture. I must do all in my power to speak out, to seek justice, to create a world where every child of God is precious.
We follow a brown-skinned Messiah. May we do all in our power to protect the image of God everyone possesses and love our neighbor enough to seek justice for all. Jesus demands no less of us.
Bishop Karen Oliveto
What can you do?
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