The Pastoral is Political: Black Lives Matter

[Reposted with gracious permissions from Rev. Denise Anderson, Pastor Naomi Christine Leapheart, L.T. (Lisa) Lewis, and Reverend Wil Gafney, Ph.D. and from the RevGalBlogPals site administrators. The original post dates to July 11, 2016 and can be found here.]

Okay, white family. Let me talk to you right quick…

For those of you who ask “How long?” or “How many times must this happen?” I’ll tell you precisely when it will stop. It will stop when people en masse are aware of the ways in which whiteness/white supremacy have shaped the way people of color are viewed, engaged, and treated in this world (even by other people of color). To come to this realization, however, white people will then have to be self-aware and convicted of the ways in which they have benefited from and promulgated the lie of whiteness. As necessary as this is for the well-being of society, it is also an uncomfortable undertaking and there is literally nothing forcing white people to do it. White people, then, will likely have to create the force.

denise
Rev. Denise Anderson

White people, you have heard it said that you must talk to other white people about racism, and you must. But don’t talk to them about their racism. Talk to them about YOUR racism. Talk to them about how you were socialized to view, talk to, and engage with people of color. Talk to them about the ways you’ve acted on that socialization. Talk to them about the lies you bought into. Talk about the struggles you continue to have in shedding the scales from your eyes. Don’t make it “their” problem. Understand it as your own problem, because it is. To not do this would put you in danger of being yet another well-intentioned racist, convinced of their own goodness and living a life wholly unexamined and unaccountable to anyone. We don’t need anymore of those. It’s confession time.

— Rev. Denise Anderson is a member of the RevGalBlogPals Board of Trustees, a Presbyterian Church (USA) Teaching Elder living in the Washington metropolitan area and Co-Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA). She blogs at Soula Scriptura.

***

I’ve had so many white people offer me apologies over the last 48 hours. So many expressions of “I can’t imagine what it is to be Black/a Black parent/a parent of a Black child…!”

Let me be candid. My response to these sentiments is:

Please do not lament that you cannot imagine what it is to be Black. Nobody needs you to be Black. Instead, fully feel what it is to be bankrupted by whiteness.

Pastor Naomi Christine Leapheart
Pastor Naomi Christine Leapheart

Allow yourself to look, finally, at your gaping wounds, the wounds of whiteness. Acknowledge the paralysis you may feel around difficult truths about America and her white supremacist ideas, practices, and theologies. Acknowledge the disconnection and disembodiment you suffer because of generational denial and wrongheadedness. Acknowledge the guilt you feel because you’ve done nothing, said nothing, felt nothing. Acknowledge the shame you feel because you, too, are implicated. Acknowledge the resentments you may feel because you believe the call to center Black life is a diminishment of your own.

I can’t imagine what it is to be white.

When righteous white people understand how they have been poisoned unto death by white supremacy, perhaps our frameworks can change.

Pastor Naomi Christine Leapheart, a daughter of Detroit, is a minister, educator, organizer, and organizational consultant.  She is an organizer with POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild) and an anti-racism trainer.

***

According to the Pew Research Center in 2014 70.6% of Americans, age 18 and older, self-identify as practicing a Christian religion.  That may explain why, in light of the recent shootings and killings in the United States, all over various social media platforms everyone is talking about praying.  Pray for the black community.  Pray for our nation.  Pray for law enforcement.  Pray. Pray.  Pray.

I’m one of the 70.6%.  I’m an ordained Elder in the Christian church as a matter of fact.  But I’m also a black woman, divorced mother of two children; a daughter and a son.  I wasn’t poor.  My children weren’t impoverished.  Although we were solidly middle class, I still learned firsthand the challenges of successfully raising black children, especially a young black boy into adulthood.  I prayed too but at some point I had to stop praying and get to work.

I couldn’t do it alone, however, I needed help.  Help came in the form of faith, family and family-like-friends.  Specifically, a Christian husband and wife, Elton and LeWan, with children of their own came to my aide.  They didn’t just pray but they responded.  Their help came at a very critical time in my son’s life and made a difference.  Today, my son is proudly serving in the United States military defending and protecting the lives of all its citizens.

Lisa Lewis
Lisa Lewis

The challenges that are facing our nation requires more than just praying to God but listening and responding to His call.  God needs hands and feet; all 70.6% of us, to bridge the great racism divide in our nation.  We are our brother’s keeper; regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

On the heels of such a great nationwide tragedy, I’d like to remind us Christians of our call to action issued by Jesus Christ in John 14:12, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”

God answers prayer through people.  If we don’t plan to use our hands and feet to get the work done, please stop praying. #BlackLivesMatter

— L.T. (Lisa) Lewis is an ordained elder and serves in a non–denominational Christian church, Sons of God Outreach (SOGO) Christian Ministries, in the Washington Metropolitan area. She blogs at Kick-Boxing Believers.

***

I am trying to wrap my head around a group of four people who would agree to ambush and assassinate white police officers at a black lives matter rally. I am having a hard time with the idea that anyone would do that and find others who would agree to do that. I know it is not reasonable or rational. Black lives matter and the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were used in the sick, twisted self-aggrandizing murder spree. Not in our names. Not in the names of the dead. Not in the names of the murdered. We need to address gun culture in this country. We need to address racism in this country. We need to change police culture and tactics in this country. We need to build bridges between police and the communities they police. And we need to mourn, lament, pray, prophesy and preach. We need to do the work that needs doing for ourselves, our children and our society. No matter who is against us and this work, though the forces of hell array against us, we must do this work or none of us shall survive.

wil-headshot
The Rev. Wil Gafney, PhD.

The assassinations of the Dallas police officers must be talked about in their context which includes black lives matter. We must continue to say that we were doing the work partnering with our officers. We will not let our name or the movement be hijacked. Nor will we be shamed into not saying that #BlackLivesMatter.

— The Reverend Wil Gafney, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas and is an Episcopal Priest. Follow Wil on Twitter and read her blog.

 

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