Sincerely hoping we were much further away from KKK robes and torches, I cannot help but speak to the horror of such images resurging on Friday night, August 11, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia as the #UniteRight protests scheduled for Saturday, August 12, 2017, had its torch-toting preamble. Mostly white men marching in the streets while holding make-shift torches on a Friday evening as clergy and others were praying and standing for justice was a mean scene; very wrong; very reminiscent of everything my father and forefathers fought to overcome.
Just 3 years ago during this same week Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson. In April of 2015 Freddy Gray died after a rough police ride in Baltimore. In military fashion we witnessed an over-policing presence that made citizens wonder if we were in a war zone. These citizens marching were not armed, yet we labeled the predominantly peaceful protests as riots. However, what do we call Charlottesville? They are protests, rallies, and marches.
Yet these Alt-Right and #UniteRight “marches” were characterized by men and women brandishing bats, sticks, and homemade pepper spray. Over what? The grievance of the Gen. Robert E. Lee statue being removed. The protest weren’t over a real live person being questionably shot, but a statue. What about the real lives and bodies of black people? Yes, all lives matter, but friends when will the lives of millions of blacks who were being killed in the South for generations matter more than the ideals of a cement statue which represents the very leadership that fought for, not against, the enslavement of black people?
I have so many white friends and family members who deeply care about and stand for justice. For this I am grateful. I have a multicultural church family that come together in unity and love. For this I am grateful. However, I am writing to all those who have been silent amid the violence.
I am writing to all those who stand with me as Gracists to extend your bridge building hearts to feel what so many of us as African Americans feel.
I am writing to thank my white brothers and sisters, my Asian and Hispanic brothers and sisters, my Arab and Jewish brothers and sisters for standing with us and feeling our pain.
My message is not about #UniteRight but it is about #Unite4WhatisRight! Let’s unite for what is right. Unity! Love! Grace! Forgiveness!
Here are 4 things we can all do to build bridges for what is right:
- Unite through diversity, not division
- Speak out as a witness for justice
- Encourage Christian whites who disagree with white supremacy to not be silent because, to many, silence equals consent.
- Downshift the rhetoric of racism and division
The first letter at the beginning of each sentence spells out the word USED. I hope you will remember each practical point so that you can be “used” for good and not for evil. I pray that you can be “used” for gracism, not racism. Let’s all be “used” to be a part of the solution and not the problem of division, disrespect, and distruction by lifting each other up and not tear anyone down. This is how we can unite for what’s right!