By Rev. Dr. Timothy James, administrative secretary for the National Convocation
Here we are again having to make a statement regarding unarmed African American men being shot and killed by police. Two more incidents have surfaced for the world to see our behavior. Saturday August 22nd, Trayford Pellerin was shot eleven times and killed in Lafyette, LA. Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back at point blank range Sunday, August 23rd, and is paralyzed in Kenosha, WI. Peaceful protests took place, only to be interrupted by violence and fires, and a shooter leaving two protestors dead and another seriously wounded.
“How long, Lord, how long?” Four hundred years is a long time. African Americans, also known as Black People, have never really come up from slavery in these United States. The lynching of Black people after emancipation provided frightening oppression for Black people and entertainment for White people. It was also a stark reminder of the racist ideology of white supremacy. This violent tactic was designed to keep freed African American men, women and children in their place. This mindset and narrative have been the driving force behind the continuation or the perpetuation of systemic and institutional racism. Law enforcement has served as the strong arm to enforce Jim Crow laws, and legislation that legalized segregation and discrimination ever since. And it is still at work today, unfortunately on too many occasions brutal and aggressive. There is no comfort in thinking that authorities may take your life, because it is open season on Black people. BLACK LIVES MATTER!
When will it ever end? Many thanks to the men and women of the NBA, WNBA (basketball), NFL (football), MLB (baseball), NLS (soccer), PGA, LPGA (golf) and the NHL (hockey); they all participated in a wildcat strike in their respective professional sport to say, “Enough is enough!” We all need to pay attention to the issue that continues to surface when unarmed Black people are killed. Racism needs to be dismantled, police reform and accountability is needed for better community relations. Human rights for all people of color and the marginalized are threatened by the continuous social and political injustice against Black people.
Personally, I respect the comments from Julia Jackson, mother of Jacob Blake. She has been blessed with peace from God. She has been able to make an appeal for peaceful protests. She was able to pray with everyone in the hospital room, including the police, and express a sense of forgiveness for all she has endured. God’s love is amazing, people are helped and aided through the trials and tribulations of life trusting and depending on the love of God. This love helps us to love and forgive our enemies. Prayers and forgiveness have not brought these murderous atrocities to an end. So, I also want the love of God that burns within us like a holy fire against those things, like racism, that are not like God.
Some of us may not have the courage to go out and face tear gas, rubber bullets and billy clubs. But we can do something from where we are and help those who are on the front lines, for their protection and care. Let us pray for tough love. Love that asks for the strength to keep on toiling through exhaustion, tear drops and frustration. Pray for the boldness to stand with righteous indignation. I pray that the people of God will be awakened from our complacency and liberated from our timidity. That we will be endued with power from on high by our deep spirituality and our passion for justice. Let us pray for the love of God to be active in our lives. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4: 13)