This past week marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. The conviction of Derek Chauvin gave us a glimpse of justice and a glimmer of hope. But as I wrote earlier, one conviction is not justice.
Even after the murder of George Floyd and a summer of protests across the country and around the world, it seems as though hate is reigning supreme. According to Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy organization, 1,068 people have been killed by police since George Floyd’s murder, the majority people of color. In fact, Blacks are three times more likely to be killed by police than whites. From March of 2020 to March of 2021, the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center has recorded 3,800 instances of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate incidences, primarily against Asian women. Increased incidents coincided with the beginning of the pandemic when COVID-19 was cited as the “Chinese” flu by too many of our public leaders. And who of us can forget the image of January 6 when thousands of Trump supporters, at his urging, stormed the U.S. Capitol and violently attacked police, killed five people and destroyed property. Recently, a Republican congresswoman demeaned the cruelty and significance of the Holocaust by comparing Nancy Pelosi’s decision to continue requiring mask wearing on the chamber floor to the “yellow stars” which the Nazi regime used to mark Jews.
If we listen to the news, the world seems to be increasingly anti-Black, anti-AAPI, anti-Latinx, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-Semitic, and at its very root anti-Democracy. As Christians, the Word of God should always shape our moral compass. Solomon, the wise teacher, in Proverbs 10:12, reminds us that “[h]atred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” That scripture alone leads to three key truths.
The first truth is that hate is unacceptable in any form. At Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, we value all people regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender orientation, political affiliation, immigration status, or gender. God created all people and made all in His image. We must consciously rout out the unconscious biases that we all have and instead celebrate our points of similarity rather than let our points of difference further separate us.
The second truth is that regardless of how grim things may appear, God will provide. He is the God of the mountaintops and the God of the valleys. The prophet Isaiah 41:10 prophesies “[s]o do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Moses and the children of Israel offered this song of deliverance in celebration of God’s provision: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”(Exodus 15:2) In our darkest hours, God does His best work and will give us a song, a prayer, and a testimony of praise.
The last truth is there is still much work to do. In the Derek Chauvin statement, I recalled that the Black Church has always been a beacon for justice and for freedom. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” So, I encourage every person to live in his or her greatness:
- Speak up when you see a brother or sister being treated with hate or indifference. As we tell our children to call out the bullies, we too must call out those who seek to harm others with their words or actions.
- Be involved by holding your federal and state politicians responsible for the stances they take. It is time to pressure elected officials to make changes to our public policies that will lead to real justice. Remind them that your vote and your voice count.
- Remember as Christians that our faith is revealed through our loving actions. In 1 John 3:17-18, the evangelist shares that “[n]ow, suppose a person has enough to live on and notices another believer in need. How can God’s love be in that person if he doesn’t bother to help the other believer? Dear children, we must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words.”
Yes, it has been a tough 18 months and there is work to be done; but our God is with us. There is strength and encouragement in knowing that we worship a God that loves and protects us. A God who blesses us and gives us a future filled with hope. With that kind of faithful and matchless protection, we should be eager to go into battle to create a just world for all of God’s children.
Standing in Solidarity,
Pastor Darryl Roberts, Ph.D.