Dear Memorial Family:
Our hearts are filled with sadness as we relive the agonizing deaths of George Floyd, Armaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Keith Lamont Scott, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, and the countless named and nameless victims of police violence in this country. Each time, the wound grows deeper and wider, and we search for some way of understanding, of digesting, of explaining to our children and our grandchildren how and why this is happening. We are well acquainted with the source of these atrocities. We know well the roots of hatred and violence and oppression. The institution of slavery in this nation and all of the institutions that grew out from slavery including, sadly, the modern church, promote the social construct of race. It espouses and sustains an ideology that black people are inferior to white people, and that it is well within the rights of white people to discriminate against, to oppress, to disrespect, to inflict physical and emotional injury, and to kill black people. The history of America is replete with the long and painful story of the inhumane treatment of black people. Many of us have marched and chanted, and attended meetings and rallies to try and resolve racial, economic, social, educational, and political inequality. We have supported the NAACP and the Urban League and memorized the writings and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., believing that our efforts would produce an environment in which our children and grandchildren would not be subjected to the kinds of injustice we experienced. But here we are in 2020, staring in the face of the exact same kinds of violence inflicted upon Emmett Till and the thousands of black men and women who were lynched and left hanging from a tree. The only difference is that now the perpetrators of this unspeakable violence wear uniforms with badges. Even if there are charges brought, they are seldom convicted.
We do not condemn all law enforcement. We do condemn all systems which promote and enable racial violence. We do condemn and speak out against systems which sustain housing inequality and food inequality and educational inequality. We do condemn the use of excessive force and police brutality. But, condemnation is not enough. Sadness is not enough. Anger is not enough.
As the people of God, we are called to address injustice any where it rears its ugly head. We are called to shine a bright light on those systems that continue to oppress and trample the health and well being of our people. We are called to stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed and dehumanized. We are called to name the sin and be about the business of repentance and reconciliation. What are you willing to do?
What sacrifices are you willing to make so that this long night of weeping ends? What risks are you willing to take in your life and in the life of your church to initiate lasting peace?