Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons
We who believe in freedom cannot rest We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes
From Ella’s Song by Bernice Reagon inspired by the words of Ella Baker in 1964
Do you remember the Sunday our music director Jeremy Mage led us in that song? After which killing? How sad it is that we can’t remember. Or that words written in 1964 could sound like they were written yesterday.
I am now back from North Carolina…four days with no cell phone or internet. I am sorry that I was not able to be with you last Sunday when faith communities around the country took time to stop and reflect and pray about the violence that tore our country last week… Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Dallas…
Throughout the Wild Goose Festival (Of which I will write more later), there was an underscoring sense that we are at a critical moment in our society. How it turns out will be up to us.
While at one level it is true that ALL LIVES MATTER, that statement can be used to undercut the demands of the present moment that unless BLACK LIVES MATTER specifically and concretely, NO LIVES MATTER. Unless we take seriously the current reality of a black community that feels under attack, from every social measurement to gentrification, mass incarceration and seeming disregard for human dignity let alone lives, we will not be facing the truth of the moment we are living in.
What does our gospel lesson from last Sunday have to do with this? As Claudio Carvales of Union Seminary said, “What do we do when black bodies are lying bleeding in the road in front of us? Do we pass by? Or do we stop?”
And if we stop, what are we to do? Unless…and until…we begin the project of actively and intentionally de-privileging, of deconstructing privilege, we will continue to be caught in this devil’s bargain. Black lives…and when anger rages, blue lives are the price of privilege.
The loss of life in Dallas is no less tragic. But when anger rages and lives continue to seem to be disregarded, where there are victims of ptsd from wars that never end and easy access to guns, these tragedies as well are almost predictable.
How do we begin? I do not have a formula. All I know is that we have to ask ourselves, what can you do, what can I do, what can we do, and how can we help each other begin? That conversation must begin, above all, with those of us who claim to bear the name of Jesus.
Let the conversation begin….