The killing of George Perry Floyd was without question evil. As we come to learn of the personal animosity Officer Derek Michael Chauvin had with George Floyd, the abuse of his police authority leading to George’s death is being met with the demand for justice and reform of our public safety and law enforcement policy. Racial targeting and the uncalled for excessive force upon people of color must not continue!
These are trying times. They also provide a tremendous opportunity for spiritual growth. On June 2nd, 2020, a local online “Pastoral Response Towards Racial Reconciliation” was hosted by Rev. John Davis and included guests Bishop Walter Harvey, Pastor Jay English, Diane De La Santos and other local leaders. A challenge was shared of how the Church of Jesus might embrace the call to racial reconciliation in our communities.
Diane, who is the Executive Director of City on a Hill, quoted words from Solomon while viewing and lamenting the evil he saw all around him.
“I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them…. There is a time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak.”
She identified large amounts of societal racial separation, especially in our neighborhoods but also in our churches. People of color have expressed that while they may be enjoying many of the things happening in their fellowship, they also often have a feeling of not being heard in churches where they are in the minority.
Diane encouraged her audience to learn how to effectively listen to people and really hear the messages coming from people of other ethnicities. Through the education from the “tears of the oppressed”, we then begin learning to see with our ears.
3 years ago I met Joe West performing at the Nashville TN Airport. Little did I know we were beginning a journey to create a documentary about his parents who were America’s first Black Country Western Duo. As an activity of growing in the bonds of friendship, we took a trip to the National Museum of African American History in Washington DC. Joe and I not only highly recommend you visit this hallowed ground but encourage you to go with a friend of a different color.
Learning to see with your ears will happen in conversation naturally. Also, while there are so many good materials to read, I recommend adding these to your reading list: “Blood Done Signed My Name” and “The Blood of Emmett Till” by Timothy B Tyson.
Secondly, Diane said “We need to speak.” Sometimes out of fear that we might say something wrong or offensive we decide to just be quiet. That silence can be a type of violence to the soul of the oppressed. Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King she expressed the sentiment of hurt that comes “Not only by the words of their enemy but by the silence of their friends.”
If you would like to view the entirety of this insightful 90 minute panel discussion, it is online at: vimeo.com/425257627