Friday, June 5,2020
My dear friends, I write to you with a heart filled with rage and grief, and yet hopeful. The murders of three black people: George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by their local police and Ahmaud Arbery by two white men, have ignited an outrage across our country not seen in decades. The horrific videos of their deaths are terrifying. It is despairing to watch the message of thousands of peaceful protesters dismissed because of the few inciting violence. There is no doubt we have neither found a vaccine nor a cure for the pandemic of racism infecting our nation.
As a people of faith we are called to look at the world through the eyes of love and act in ways reflecting God’s love and care for all. Deuteronomy 6:5 makes clear God’s command, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might;” as does Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” When a lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life he answers his own question saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus responds saying, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:27-28). 1 John 4:19-21 reminds us, “We love because God first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from the Lord is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” Love is not just a noun, but a very powerful verb.
I don’t believe any of us want to hold racist thoughts and attitudes, and we believe that, “I’m not racist.” But it is insufficient “not to be racist.” To say so is well intentioned, but it is passive, and we must act now. We must be anti-racist; and to be anti-racist is to be actively engaged in identifying, confronting and changing the racism that dwells within ourselves and the very culture and institutions in which we live. As daunting as this is, let’s begin by taking baby-steps. We can learn more about racism, seek advice on how to talk about it with our children, and discover ways we can become anti-racist ourselves.
And herein lies my hope. We are not powerless in the face of racism. We can humbly work in solidarity with the black community and others who are anti-racist. I know it won’t be easy. But the Holy Spirit provides the courage and compassion, the patient persistence and the communities of hope that will see us, all of us, through to the day when God’s realm of love and justice will be manifest right here, right now.
I have listed a few links below that may help us become anti-racist. I hope you will explore them. I found some particularly challenging. Please contact me if you would like to talk or have any questions, and let me know of other resources you recommend.
May God bless us with a rich, daring and faithful curiosity! Shepard
Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ
All Our Kin - resources for families with young children https://myemail.constantcontact.com/We-Grieve-With-You--We-Fight-for-Justice-With-You--We-Hope-With-You------Lloramos-con-ustedes--Luchamos-por-la-justicia-con-uste.html?soid=1102198705985&aid=jHsoitS7zBg
Anti-racism Resources for white people: A list of resources for becoming anti-racist. Includes resources for parents.
Southern Poverty Law Center