Listen, understand, heal
By Jessica Brodie (From the Advocate, October 2016)
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Mass protests. Riots. Tear gas. Violence. Pain. Our nation is hurting. What are we, as followers of Christ, going to do about it?
As I write this, news had just broken about explosive demonstrations in Charlotte after the police shooting of yet another black male—and this on the heels of a similar shooting just days earlier in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Charlotte police said the man they shot was carrying a gun; witnesses said it was a book. Immediately, cries of racism and, some said, overzealous, trigger-happy police prompted protests that escalated, in Charlotte, into a full-scale onslaught with tear gas, fires and looting. The North Carolina governor declared a state of emergency in that city.
“The police killed my daddy because he is black,” the Charlotte victim’s daughter said in a Facebook video.
It’s not clear exactly what prompted either shooting, and perhaps investigation will uncover the truth. But what is clear is that the people are more than upset. They are in grief, in shock, in pain. They are crying out for help, for awareness. They want the world to know they call foul. And when their voices are not heard, when their cries for help are not heeded, they turn to other measures. They turn to protest.
“A riot is the language of the unheard,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said.
By the time this editorial is read, the protests will likely have died down. But how long until the next shooting? And then what?
The waves our brothers and sisters are making command respect, not scorn or judgment. They implore that we turn around and look with both eyes, hear with both ears.
My friends, I urge you to listen to what is being said. These claims about racism and racial profiling deserve our attention. “Black lives matter” doesn’t mean only black lives matter. It means black lives matter. We all matter. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “There are many parts, but one body. … If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:20, 26).
Let’s listen, understand—and then do whatever it takes to heal. Together.