Why the White Church Should Not Remain Silent About the Killing of Black Men by Police

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A black parishioner shares his frustration with the absence of outrage from the pulpit at his majority-white place of worship.I am a Christian and a black man. My wife and I wife attend a majority-white church in central New Jersey. We are not an anomaly. The few majority-white churches I’ve visited over the past several years had significant sprinkles of black folks in their pews. Our faith has served an important personal, communal and spiritual role in our lives. It is a source of strength, comfort and guidance, especially in times of hopelessness. My new church has been great at supporting my spiritual growth; however, more recently, I am unable to escape my frustration with the silence on race and racism.

I have been deeply and painfully grieved by the torrent of unprovoked killings over the past several years of young brothers. The events surrounding the deaths of Jordan Davis, Michael Brown and John Crawford were some of the most ugly and bigoted things I’ve witnessed in my lifetime—from the media’s attempted shaming of the teenage victims by drudging up signs of “troubled adolescence” to the “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets worn by Ferguson, Mo., police.

A recent New York Times poll shows deep divisions between black and white perceptions of the significance of race and racism in the death of Brown and is evidence that America’s race problem is much bigger than we thought. The problem isn’t that we, as African Americans, see race as a factor. The problem is that different lives have different value, and the value of young black life is at a shocking low in the 21st century.

In 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. called on white clergy (pdf) to take a good hard look at the violence and injustice perpetrated against blacks in America and to stand united with black Americans who were struggling just to be treated as fully human. Fifty-one years later, I am calling on white church leaders to do the same thing: Take a good look at what is happening to black boys in this country and a deep introspective look into your own hearts to sift through any potential biases.

Ignoring the deaths of Michael Brown, John Crawford, Jordan Davis and others in service of placating white congregants is just as dangerous and problematic as overtly racist responses. Silence inadvertently communicates to the white members that these aren’t important matters or that they are not relevant to the faith.

The Sundays after the Brown shooting and the release of the video showing Crawford being gunned down in Wal-Mart, my pastor was noticeably silent on both incidents and ambiguously generic in his message. What did come across felt like an empty attempt to satisfy his own conscience by simply acknowledging that there is “division” in the country, without naming the divided parties or directing the church to support any stakeholders.

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Source: The Root | 

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