Tag Archives: Michael Brown

Always broken

The system is broken.

I have heard that often following the decisions of grand juries not to indict in the cases of the killing of Michael Brown and the killing of Eric Garner.

The system is broken.

Unless the speaker means she/he is just realizing that for people of color, women, immigrants, members of the LGBTQIA community, and many others, the system has always been broken, I strongly disagree with that statement.

The system was built on the institution of chattel slavery. And when that institution ended, it was replaced by Jim Crow laws that legalized segregation. And when those laws were overturned, institutionalized racism remained, expressing itself today in the New Jim Crow that results in “millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then denied rights, rights won in the struggle, and relegated to a permanent second-class status.

The system was built on indentured servitude.

The system was built on the genocide of the indigenous peoples and the theft of their resources.

The system was built on the theft of the land of Latinos/Latinas.

The system was built by controlling who could enter the country. And then providing a welcome that grudginly accepted labor but only slowly and incompletely accepted humanity.

The system was built on the view that women and children were property of men to care for, perhaps, but also to dominate and abuse and violate.

The system was built on driving people who did not fit the cisgender, heterosexual norm into closets.

The system was built to privilege a few at the expense of the many.

The system is broken. The system has always been broken.

The vision of a system that provides justice and equality for all has long been with us, perhaps always been with us. It judges and challenges the status quo. Since the beginning, there have been people who have been caught by the vision and have challenged the system, who have worked to remake it. Through their efforts, progress has occurred. I give thanks for them. I give thanks for where we have come. But significant work remains to create a system that provides justice and equality for all.

The system is broken. It has always been broken.

God grant me grace and courage to support and join those who seek to remake it.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Human Rights

Confronting racism in church and society

I had the privilege of providing the September 4, 2014 message for Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. I focused on our need to address racism within the church and our society. I am grateful to Sara Lisherness, Sera Chung, and Toya Richards for editorial input.

As followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we claim the biblical vision of the day when swords are beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Our faith in Christ compels us to work for a world filled with justice and peace.

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, in partnership with other Compassion, Peace, and Justice and World Mission programs, helps Presbyterians witness and work for justice and peace in Syria, South Sudan, Israel/Palestine, and other places that experience conflict and injustice. We commemorate theInternational Day of Peace, September 21, a day the United Nations invites all nations and peoples to take concrete steps to strengthen the ideals and reality of peace.

We respond to Christ’s call, and the message of the International Day of Peace, whenever and wherever we work for justice and peace in the face of brokenness and strife. The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the killings of other African American males, demonstrate the need for such work in our own country.

Such events painfully remind us of the ongoing reality of racism and poverty as well as the impact of the militarization of police forces in our country. Too many African American men have been killed by the police. Too many issues of racial injustice have festered unresolved, leading to distrust and fear, anger and violence. Ongoing disenfranchisement has resulted in hopelessness and despair.

Presbyterians have a mixed record when it comes to responding to race. We have taken important steps on the journey to racial justice. At the same time, we have often failed to sufficiently recognize and repent of our complicity in the creation and continuation of systems and structures that perpetuate racism. We have been slow to undertake the difficult work of dismantling systems of privilege and disadvantage.

This summer, Presbyterians have prayed and stood with the people of Ferguson, Missouri; we have witnessed and proclaimed the good news of God’s love for all in pulpits across the country. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, in partnership with the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy and First Presbyterian Church of Ferguson, is providing support and resources to the church and community through two members of the National Response Team with significant experience in public violence disaster response.

As we give thanks for these and other efforts, we need to continue the journey to justice and accelerate our pace. Resources are available to help Presbyterians confront and address the persistence of racism.

The Season of Peace, which begins on September 7 and ends on World Communion Sunday, provides a time to reflect on, and work for, racial and economic justice and peace. During this season, we receive the Peace & Global Witness Offering that supports peace and justice efforts around the world and in our communities.

A team comprised of staff from the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Office of the General Assembly has gathered to identify further actions Presbyterians can take to address racism, the militarization of police forces, and poverty. Watch for more information and opportunities for engagement.

As our Brief Statement of Faith reminds us, In a broken and fearful world the Spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing, to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior, to unmask idolatries in Church and culture, to hear the voices of peoples long silenced, and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace. May we be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading as we share the good news of God’s peace.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

A prayer for #NMOS14

10604510_1455047228107493_7131459021695901671_oIn response to the killing of Michael Brown and others, people will gather in solidarity across the country on Thursday, August 14, to hold vigils and observe a moment of silence to honor victims of police brutality. Find information about a National Moment of Silence 2014 near you.

For those who are called to prayer at such a time, Mihee Kim-Kort and I offer the following for you to use or adapt or take as a starting point to create a completely different prayer:

Gracious God,
With breaking hearts and aching spirits, we turn to you.
God, have mercy.

Another violent death has torn your human family.
God, have mercy.

Another person of color,
another of your beloved children,
killed too soon.
God, have mercy.

Families, friends weep.
Communities question and rage.
God have mercy.

Have mercy, God.

Guide us
to see each person,
to value each person,
to treat each person,
as your beloved child.

Help us
to remake systems that diminish, divide, deny, and degrade,
to establish and enforce policies of accountability,
to turn from violence,
to end state-sanctioned police brutality and antiblackness.

Draw us together
to allow justice justice to roll like waters,
to permit righteousness to flow like everlasting streams,
to wash over all your children.
All your children.

This day and every day.

With breaking hearts and aching spirits, we turn to you.
God, have mercy.
Amen.

 

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events