Erin Hawkins, General Secretary, General Commission on Religion and Race, The United Methodist Church, wrote "Moving Toward the Pain" on May 27, 2020.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6 (NIV)
Yesterday, video footage posted on social media showed George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed African-American man, handcuffed and pinned to the ground at the neck by a Minneapolis police officer’s knee. Mr. Floyd can be heard gasping, “I can’t breathe!”
Bystanders also begged officers to assist Mr. Floyd, who was in distress. But the officer didn’t let up, and Mr. Floyd appeared to pass out and, later, died. Hours later, the Commission on the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) released a statement announcing new dates for the 2020 General Conference to be held in Minneapolis but was postponed due to COVID-19.
It is no coincidence that the city of Minneapolis serves as a common backdrop for Mr. Floyd’s death to an egregious act of racism and for General Conference, which has at various times in its history sanctioned discrimination and racial oppression impacting the lives of people of color (and may do so again in 2021). We are being presented with a divine invitation to face the pain points of racial violence and oppression, to see the realities of a denomination still mired in institutional racism reflected in the assault on black and brown personhood, and, finally, to choose once and for all the path of anti-racism in word and deed.
Jesus called the disciples to “leave your home, sell everything you own and follow me.” He then led those who accepted the call to places where marginalization had rendered people sick, hungry, and burdened. There Jesus challenged systems, offered healing touch, and brought life to the dying and the dead. He disrupted the status quo in order to be and to bring good news to those outside of systems of power.
Jesus continues to issue the call to discipleship in The United Methodist Church today. Christ invites us to leave behind the comforts of power and privilege that lure us away from following him to uncomfortable places and, instead, to move with intentionality toward the pain points in our local congregations, communities, denomination, and world. Only then will we effectively interrupt narratives that defend and accommodate racist behavior. Only then will we finally dismantle the systems that perpetuate, protect, and normalize the racism made evident through recent events like the one in Minneapolis.
Read Hawkins' full statement at https://www.gcorr.org/moving-toward-the-pain/
Rev. Tony Hunt is pastor at Epworth Chapel UMC in Baltimore. He posted this on his Facebook page May 30, 2020.
This weekend, America is realizing what the saying means that “when America catches a cold, Black America catches pneumonia.” African Americans have born a disproportionate brunt of the COVID-19 crisis - more jobs lost, less access to adequate healthcare, more death in our families, and loss in our communities. And African Americans continue to bear the brunt of police brutality, racial profiling and mass incarceration. These are the ingredients of the recipe for violent protests spreading across the nation in cities tonight. #staywoke
The Rev. Bonnie McCubbin serves as pastor at Good Shepherd UMC in Baltimore. She posted this, below, on her Facebook page May 29, 2020.
I've been busy momming and pastoring and haven't said much about the latest tragedies that have erupted in our news and world. But I haven't said much because I'm tired. I'm tired of the outrage that pops up for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks...then it all subsides. It all goes away until the next tragedy but nothing changes. Nothing changes in the way we think,behave, act, or proclaim justice for all God's children--all colors, all races, all nationalities, all ethnicities, all genders, all ages, all educations, all socioeconomic statuses, all housing status...all means all. And we as a nation like to pick and choose who is worthy of outrage. Who is worthy of acceptance. Who is worthy of life. And this needs to stop.
White folx, stop making black and brown folx do the emotional labor for you. Holler if you need resources, articles, definitions, a conversation partner, etc. It's not black and brown folx job to educate you. And stop saying you have "one black friend" so you can't be racist. We all have implicit biases (check out the Harvard Implicit Bias tests free online to start understanding where your "Programming" lies). Here's the thing, even if you aren't overtly racist, the microaggressions are there. And they cut...it's death by a thousand papercuts. The way you cross the street when a black man approaches. The way you clutch your purse when a hispanic man walks by you. The terms you use for single black mothers. The stares you give brown women. And so much more.
I'm white. I'm perceived by the world as white. My family has lived in the same 30 mile radius since 1646. I'm a daughter of the American Revolution 3 times over. My family fought on both sides of the Civil War (welcome to being from Maryland). I have a Masters Degree and credits beyond. I own my home. I am heterosexual and have a lovely child. I have so much privilege.
And, yet, I see racism first-hand every single day. I live it. My family is mixed race. My husband is Mexican and Yacqui Indian. My son is Mexican, Yacqui, German, English, Irish, and Scottish--and happens to be lighter-skinned than both of his parents. But we live racism every single day. I just don't talk about it. We live in a fairly diverse, but still majority white neighborhood. I've been called names, along with my family. I've had neighbors try to break into our home. I've had other neighbors be aggressive...then they see my large-framed, hispanic husband and get scared and leave me alone. And I have to wonder if they would have reacted the same way if my husband were white? If I were a man? Or are they afraid that the brown guy might do something weird? I watch as our bilingual family speaks Spanish in public and people give us a wide berth in ways they don't do when we speak English. Last summer, my husband took our son to the community pool one day without me (I was working). When they got to the kiddie pool, 5 different mothers looked at him, and immediately called their children over and left. They didn't want to swim with my brown family. The list goes on. I've been told I shouldn't be married to someone outside of my race ("traitor"). This is just the tip of the iceberg. We have family plans for what to do not if, but when, my husband is detained, stopped, or arrested for LWB (living while brown). No family should live this way. No one. I'm tired.
I'm tired. I'm tired of our forced and fake outrage with no change. I'm white. But I live in a racist world that doesn't think my family is OK. So when you get done with the latest outrage and posting articles on social media thinking you are "doing something" or "changing minds," stop. Stop. Pray if you are a person of faith. Read. Educate yourself. Ask good questions. Listen more than you talk. And then use your privilege to make a difference and call out and reject racism and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves.
Created with images by munshots - "beautiful graffiti mural honoring george floyd from black lives matter protest . . . for more editorial photos: http://www.shutterstock.com/g/MUNSHOTS?rid=267047586" • Vince Fleming - "untitled image" • LOGAN WEAVER - "PORTRAITS INSTAGRAM - @LGNWVRPRTRTS EDITORIAL INSTAGRAM - @LGNWVRPHTO PERSONAL INSTAGRAM - @LGNWVR" • Josh Hild - "untitled image" • munshots - "Police officers standing guard towards George Floyd protestors in minneapolis riots . . . . . for more editorial photos: http://www.shutterstock.com/g/MUNSHOTS?rid=267047586" • Julian Wan - "A young woman wearing a mask and black lives matter t-shirt marching in a #BlackLivesMatter public demonstration in Cincinnati." • Vince Fleming - "untitled image"