I see you.
I see your facebook posts and tweets calling for racial reconciliation in light of last week’s compounding tragedies. I see your vision for unity and peace, for America to bridge the racial divide that keeps us at odds. I hear it in your preaching and in your worship. And in the articles you write, the conversations you keep, the rhetoric you speak before an aching world.
To many people, your request sounds noble. Godly even. But not to me because I have watched you over these past few years.
I saw you in 2014, when Eric Garner, John Crawford, Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson were killed.
And I saw you again in 2015 when Natasha McKenna, Sandra Bland and Kindra Chapman – all black women – died in police custody. That same summer, I saw you after a white supremacist executed nine black church goers in Charleston. I saw you after the fires wrecked havoc on other black churches throughout the south.
I saw you after Jamar Clark. And after #PulseOrlando. And tragedy after tragedy that targets black and brown bodies – irrespective of their occupation, education, religion, sexual orientation, or income.
And I saw you last week when Alton Sterling was killed in Louisiana. And after Philando Castille was killed in Falcon Heights, not five minutes from where I live.
And after each tragedy, after each loss of life you said nothing. There were no posts mourning the lives of these black men and women. No sermons preached from your pulpit urging our country to do better. No think pieces critiquing structural racism and white supremacy that leads to the continuous loss of life either by the hands of a police officer or a self-appointed keeper of the law.
You did not mourn. You did not speak. You were silent. And that silence spoke volumes about how much you truly value all life.
During a peaceful Black Lives Matter solidarity protest in Dallas, TX, five police officers were tragically killed and many more wounded. It brought further pain to many in our nation who were already grieving Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, and who were still processing the massacre in Orlando last month. The disregard for life in our nation is both glaring and disturbing.
But I saw you after Dallas. And for the first time, I heard you speak. For the first time, I saw you take a stand on something other than gay rights and abortion. I saw your tweets and your facebook posts. I heard your sermons. I listened to your worship. And in them, I heard your call for racial reconciliation in a broken nation.
Yet your call rings hollow and it cuts the soul because you refused to see the need for reconciliation when black men and women were being killed in the streets.
You did not call for justice when Sikh worshippers were killed in their temple. Or when black worshippers were killed in Charleston. How I prayed that you would!
You did not lift your voice demanding change when a twelve year old – yes a twelve year old – was gunned down for being a kid. Or when Sandra Bland was profiled, arrested, and eventually killed for driving while black.
Where was your grief then? Where was your godly vision of justice then? It was absent and you were silent because speaking up about these was too costly.
And so now, your vision for peace and reconciliation falls short. Your calling the people to pray and mourn only after cops were killed actually stinks. For years, for years we’ve been crying out for justice and mercy – not only did you refuse to heed that call, but you demonized those who did. For every #blacklivesmatter and #nativelivesmatter tweet there was, you insisted #alllivesmatter while ignoring the plight of the very people who were protesting.
You cared more about Cecil the Lion and that dang gorilla than us!
But you could not see. You refused to see it then. You refused to see the value in your black and brown siblings, you refused to defend our image.
You simply can’t call for peace when you can’t stand for justice.
Says the LORD, in Amos 5.21 – 24:
21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
If your vision of reconciliation only includes those in uniform and does not extend rights and justice to Black people and does not include LGBTQ community members, and Muslims, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans, it falls short. If you cannot see that reconciliation is more than just peace and a “kumbaya, let’s come together and go along to get along” sort a thing, it is inadequate. True reconciliation has to take into account the history of injustice that has led to the current state of affairs. It has to address the history of genocide, colonization, slavery and profiling that consistently results in the loss of resources, land, and life. If your vision does not start with this, it not only grieves me, but it grieves the Holy Spirit too.