#StephonClark and the Passion

PBS Column: White People Don’t Understand the Trauma of Viral Police-Killing Videos

All I could think about during this past Sunday’s reading of the Passion was #StephonClark and all the other black men killed by police recently and over the history of this country. A couple months ago a police officer next door to my workplace was arrested for playing a part in hiding the murder of a young black man in the 80’s. This kind of thing is literally happening in my own backyard, but it’s so easy to not think about.

As my church community read the story of Christ’s crucifixion, I couldn’t help but think of all the black men “crucified” today.

Every year there’s a part in the reading played by the congregation. Together we shout, “Crucify him!” Every year we squirm in our seats just a little at the words. This year I squirmed more.

I squirmed because I know that my whiteness has given me a privilege in society to be unaffected at each new headline outlining the death of another black man. My whiteness has allowed me to read that headline, shake my head, and move on with my life. My indifference to racial injustice in this country is the same as crying out “crucify!” My silence is the same as Peter’s denial of knowing Christ. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that often I don’t care enough to be bothered.

This Holy Week the Spirit is leading me to reflect more on the what it means to pick up my cross and follow Jesus. The spirit is asking me to look into the face of Christ in the face of my black brothers and sisters and not to run away as the disciples did.

I pray this Easter brings with it new life, a new world, a new society, and a new dream where the reign of God breaks open the floodgates to let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. #blacklivesmatter

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

“We see the videos and we are authentically horrified and saddened by what we see. But many of us [white people] have the ultimate privilege of changing the channel, clicking on another Facebook post. We can make it go away if we choose and the horror of the scene is quickly forgotten. We can leave it behind and go about our day. And most white people don’t attune to just how different an experience it is for black people.”
— Dr. Jonathan Kanter, University of Washington




So proud to have been able to stand with our HS students today, one month after the school tragedy in Parkland, FL, to remember and honor the victims. At 10:00am the students met in front of the school and walked in silence to the chapel, along the way ringing 17 bells and tying 17 orange ribbons to the school for each of the 17 victims. In the chapel, prayers and encouraging words were shared and 17 candles were lit while pictures were placed in 17 empty chairs and 17 names were read with a brief sentence about each. Psalm 88 was read. The service was closed with words of hope. We don’t have to accept these events as normal. We can effect change. We can have the hard conversations. We can speak to people of influence. We can be more kind and loving to our neighbor. We can take our baptismal call more seriously to respect the dignity of every human being. We can put an end to this. We can make a difference. Enough is #Enough.