Recently I have been stunned by the mixed reactions of people from different economic, racial and social backgrounds across this nation linked to the tragic murder of Ahmaud Arbery. A young 25-year-old, African American male was simply out jogging and getting in his exercise before continuing his day, as many Americans do on a regular basis. Ahmaud did not wake up on the morning of Sunday, February 23rd thinking that would be his last day on earth to spend time with his mother and friends. Unfortunately, as we would later discover – it was!
When the news was released of the shooting and apparent murder, my heart just skipped a beat and I immediately thought about my own sons. Frankly, I am sure that was the case for many fathers of color in Chicago and in cities across this nation. The thought quickly crossed all our minds – that those bullets could have easily killed one of our sons. Horrifying thought, is it not? Yet so real for African American mothers and fathers throughout this country.
The Unjust History of JUSTICE and RACE in American Society
The unequal relationship between justice and race is seen in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Over the years, many African Americans have raised questions about that promise: Are these truths self-evident? Are all men created equal or is it all a fallacy? With each passing day these unalienable rights continue to be stripped and taken away from young black men and women. It seems that all too often, when a young person of color is murdered on the streets in controversial situations, the apparent perpetrator is either affiliated with some white supremacist group or with law enforcement – an officer who took an oath to serve and protect.
This is not to say that all white people are evil and/or racist, because that would be furthest from the truth. The same is true with law enforcement agents, most of whom fulfill their duties. However, based on a negative trend that continues to surface, the killing of innocent African American citizens creates concern and outrage within the African American community. Consequently, business leaders, mothers/fathers, pastors, and even some politicians are consistently saying these words way too frequently; It’s a Sequel: we have seen this movie of injustice before!
A Peaceful Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – Everyone Deserves It!
Every American citizen deserves the right to exercise their freedoms in their pursuit of a happy life for themselves and their families, with all of the proper laws of this nation protecting them from any wrongful doings that could lead to death of a loved one. It is concerning for many African Americans when consistent societal trends leave us weeping and shaking our heads in disbelief.
More and more innocent African Americans experience these horrifying injustices:
- Driving while Black – end result…Murdered!
- Home while Black – end result…Murdered!
- Jogging while Black – end result…Murdered!
- Sleeping while Black – end result…Murdered!
- Walking while Black – end result…Murdered!
- Innocently Jailed while Black – end result…Murdered!
The above trends threaten African Americans’ freedom to live at peace in this nation and cause great concern that they might be falsely accused of a crime that they did not commit. Justice also is often denied in our justice system, when such cases are brought to trial. The Declaration of Independence addresses this issue as well. “In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.” Here is why the work of Gospel Justice Centers is so critical to offer a more just future for all, and especially for people of color and people of limited means. Our God is a just God!
Where do we go from here?
Based on a recent Barna report (Where Do We Go From Here – How U.S. Christians feel about racism – and the what they believe it will take to move forward). 48% of all practicing Christians believe that minorities (non-white races) have experienced undeserved hardship. That is alarming to say the least. If practicing Christians feel this way, then it is imperative that the church takes a more active role in standing in the gaps of injustice on behalf of people of color and especially African Americans. Until that happens, the negative trends of injustice will arrive sooner or later to neighborhoods near you!
It is time for the Church of Christ to stand for equality. To stand for peace. Stand for justice. Stand for racial healing and harmony. To stand for love. Stand for kingdom reconciliation…For God’s Sake, Just Stand and Be Counted!
It’s a Sequel…When will it end?
Rev. Alvin C. Bibbs, Sr. is the President & CEO of Justice Journey Alliance, an organization committed to breaking racial barriers through shared learning and experience. Whether the justice journey experience, Just Us conversations, or Justice Lecture Series, JJA is advancing God’s Kingdom of justice. Rev. Bibbs also serves as the Community & Faith Engagement Officer for Together Chicago where he works with Administer Justice in establishing and supporting Gospel Justice Centers across Chicago.