Tuesday, June 2, 2020

They Just Want to Live

I was going to write a post about the George Floyd, but this video and these words from the interim pastor of my church say everything that I'm feeling. Dr. M has also been very eloquent - maybe I'll do another post later with some of his thoughts.

Howard Thurman asks us a damning question in his book “Jesus and the Disinherited: “Why is it that Christianity seems impotent to deal radically, and therefore effectively, with the issues of discrimination and injustice on the basis of race, religion and national origin?” 
We have personalized racism saying “I don’t have a racist bone in my body” when it is a systemic problem far more than a personal attitude.  When Social Security was called for by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he bent to the will of the South who wanted their farm laborers and domestic help to remain exempt from the program so those in power (uniformly white people) could save money at the expense of their black servants and laborers. Blacks returning from WW2 could not always get the same GI bill housing benefits and colleges were still allowed to refuse admittance to African Americans so an advanced education was again often denied. We see the ongoing segregation in our all too unequal schools.
White people have systemically had their foot on the necks of African Americans.  When a police officer in Minneapolis kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nine long minutes as he choked to death, it is no surprise that anger and violence has erupted. From afar, both physically and experientially, we white folk are put off by the vandalism and destruction that has followed and wonder why the anger is so intense.

Frederick Douglass offered this explanation in 1886:
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
The black citizens of Minneapolis (and Charlotte and Hickory and Los Angeles) have seen the failure of our policing system one more time when all four officers ignore the pleading of a dying man and a crowd of witnesses.  They doubt the justice system will serve them any better.
This week we celebrate Pentecost Sunday and read from Acts 2 which celebrates a diverse gathering of people from around the world. The Spirit offers us a greater challenge than we have typically embraced. Our personal behavior always matters.  But what matters even more in the search for justice is that we overturn the temple tables and begin to rebuild our societal and political structures so that “the least of these” are no longer trampled underfoot.

~ breathing in sorrow,


  1. There is indeed injustice,oppression, racism, discrimination, and sadly there'll probably always be. Why? Well, if you believe in God, the superpower,like I do, then you'll find the answer in the Creation of the World.
    He gave every race a territory and a culture. He didn't want them mixed, but Man has always violated the rules of the Creation by war, migration, slavery - and here we are , no solution, only destruction.
    Just like with climate change. Man has disobeyed the rules of earth and nature, and is going to pay a heavy price.

    Religions failed to see that. They even sent missionaries to
    Africa to play God and replace the africans' God given culture with the european one.

  2. white people here have been killing black people with impunity since they brought the first slave to these shores. it has to stop. as for the riots, I think the destruction and looting is instigated by Trump's Magat crowd and the racist militias that have been clamoring for a civil/race war for years, but escalation into violence of mostly peaceful protests can be laid squarely at the feet of the cops. they are reacting to protests against police brutality with more police brutality. every police force across this nation needs to be purged of racists and white nationalists.

  3. It is perhaps one of the most primitive animal reactions. Humans do not want to admit they are animals but they are and so much of what humans do is instinctive and based on primitive animal instincts. Humans don't even think about it, it just seems the proper thing to do. I watched a team of biologist following a troupe of chimpanzees. All at once a young male from a neighboring troupe crossed the, "scent," boundary and the home troupe discovered him. They instantly beat him to death. He didn't smell right. Chimps identify odor that the human evolution cannot. Humans rely on sight. They can see different skin pigmentation which are invisible or unimportant to chimpanzees. If someone is of a different skin pigmentation it is like they have crossed the invisible scent boundary.
    In my personal opinion none of this has anything to do with where we were born or that we were never intended to commingle with other races or cultures.

  4. I may be overly optimistic, but I think the pain and violence we're witnessing now is part of the path toward change. In years past, these incidents happened in relative isolation and no one knew about them. Social media didn't carry the news and footage far and wide. Today, with improved communication, we're all seeing first-hand how many of those who are charged with enforcing the law behave. It SHOULD shock us, and enrage us, and cause us to seriously question the path our police forces have taken -- toward heavier weaponry and away from knowing and serving their entire community. Of course black people have known for centuries that the authorities work against them, so their anger is particularly pronounced. Now hopefully the rest of us can be more strongly motivated to set right our police forces and elect leaders who will LEAD in these situations rather than simply issuing threatening tweets on Twitter.

  5. That first comment...! I'm not sure if it's victim-blaming, doomsday thinking, or what. Good heavens. I can't even.

    I think Steve's optimism is a bit justified, but only if we can collectively see the need for a change in federal leadership. So much of *45's base is woefully uniformed and ignorant. They don't read news; they get news from facebook or Fox, and instead of focusing on the brutal murder of Mr. Floyd, they'll gleefully point at all the destruction and looting and say things like, "Well, what do you expect?" and "What kind of people burn down their own communities?" His voting bloc has as much empathy and sensitivity as he does, which is zero.

    The difference in the politics of it became ever so stark here in Ohio when our two senators were asked about it. Our Democratic senator is seeking passage of legislation which ends racial and religious profiling. Our republican senator wants to form a commission to talk about race (again).

  6. I agree with what TJ said, humans have never strayed too far from our primate origins. Our various groups have feared the "other" since before our species existed. Now throw in centuries worth of idiotic BS involving religion, ethnic purity, and racist pseudoscience and you have a nice mix that shows Homo sapiens aren't as smart as we like to believe.

    If this racial stuff is ordained by God, I'm playing for the wrong side.

  7. I found our friend's article helpful: https://www.okhjournal.org/index.php/okhj/article/view/39/54?fbclid=IwAR0r8dmxcqKhxWvVGbu4L9jTfD2u1-bGOF3Zc1to50DZkhzVS9W4aZvhNMg

  8. I think as long as humans can "see" the superficial differences of skin color, they will react accordingly. If we were all color blind it would be a different world.


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