Friday, July 8, 2016

Who Benefits? Who Loses?


"GOD LOVES BLACKNESS. Too many have denied this basic truth for too long. Our choice to align ourselves with love and not hate requires both a rejection of racism and a positive proclamation that God delights in black lives." This comes from the newly approved PC (U.S.A.) revised antiracism policy (newly dubbed "intercultural" policy).

This week has only reinforced the need for the proclamation that God loves blackness. 

And then... 

A beautiful night shared between a very proactive police department (seriously, they were trying to do some good work) and a city with significant support for nationwide reform of policing, was destroyed in gunfire, another mass shooting in a nation already weary. I know this pastor interviewed in the links listed below (the Rev. Michael W. Waters). He's the first of many pastors in Dallas I thought of when I heard about the sniper fire. I knew he and others I know would be at the march to end the violence that took the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile too soon (Two Latinx men were also killed by police this week: Pedro Villanueva and Anthony Nunez). These were people who loved and were loved. They deserve all the marches. Their lives merit true systemic change. And then, more gunfire.

My wise spouse, who has done antiracism organizing and training for seventeen years, asks this question of every situation: Who benefits? 

In the shootings of police officers in Dallas, who benefits?

I already know who benefits. White supremacy. Who loses? We all do. This entire country, and the whole world. Our agendas spill over into our foreign policy. If we want to end violence, we need to end it for all. We who believe black lives matter, also believe no police officer or public safety official should be killed for doing their jobs.

This is not a post based on false equivalencies. This is a post about both/and, rejecting either/or. Who benefits from either/or thinking? (See above.) This is just a mid-point. This is the not the beginning of the conversation, and this is not the end.

Don't settle for the simple today. Know this is complex, ongoing, in a system in which we participate in various ways, and that everyone needs everyone else to show up - the black and brown people harassed and killed at much higher rates than white people, people racialized as Muslim who face skyrocketing rates of hate crimes, the immigrants rounded up to appease anti-immigrant forces and line the pockets of for-profit companies running detention centers, high rates of discrimination and violence against trans and queer folk, emergency responders who face ongoing threats of violence in already dangerous situations, officers who are trying to do their best in a system that increasingly relies on punitive actions by officers to backfill budget gaps created by the political elite, those around the world reeling from the impact our foreign policy has on them, and the generations after us.

End conditions by which more black people are killed by police. End conditions by which people will kill police. End the either/or thinking that pits movements against each other instead of forging alliances between them. Institutional racism kills. A violent society that encourages gun ownership kills. Demonizing the "other" kills. And sending people off to war kills too many, including the souls of some of the soldiers we say we support so much. 

How we function as a society is the problem, not individuals. We have created the conditions, whether or not we meant to, whether or not we are the primary victims or the primary perpetrators or the primary beneficiaries.  

What country do we want to leave the generations that follow? What kind of American church legacy do we Christians want to leave after the horrors of this week? These are theological questions. Our material realities are theological at their roots. Do we truly believe God loves us unconditionally, with our secret shames and our public mistakes? Do we try to live fully God's commands to love God, love one another, and care materially and spiritually for the widow and the orphan and the immigrant? Do we see one another as created wholly and wonderfully by God? Do we really believe God knits each person together in their mothers' wombs? Do we trust God? Is it possible to love God with heart, soul, and mind, while voting and living in ways that diminish life for the poor, the black, the brown, the indigenous? 

Think about it.

Black Lives Matter.

*I have benefited a great deal regarding both/and thinking from the ongoing work of Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training, and their antiracist values.

*A video interview with CBS news of the Rev. Michael W. Waters
*Hymnal resources (from the Glory to God hymnal):

The last three days in our country leave many of us without words. Music gives us voice. Here are some #hymns related to racial justice you can use during these troubling times. We suggest you use them during both personal reflection and upcoming church services:

79 - Light Dawns on a Weary World
203 - Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love
246 - Christ Is Alive!
300 - We Are One in the Spirit
317/318 - In Christ There Is No East or West
345 - In an Age of Twisted Values
346 - For the Healing of the Nations
383 - Dream On, Dream On
756 - O God of Every Nation
759 - O God, We Bear the Imprint
768 - Somos el cuerpo de Cristo/We Are the Body of Christ

#PrayersforAlton #PrayersforPhilando #PrayersforDallas #PrayersforPedro #PrayersforAnthony #BlackLivesMatter


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