The Revolution Will Not Be Videoed

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What Paul and Silas might have said about George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and and and …

For many of us, anger, sadness, frustration, and fatigue are not episodic responses but chronic conditions. In recent days we’ve all seen, heard, and read of the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery, the shooting of Breonna Taylor, the use of the police by a white woman to threaten Christian Cooper, Minneapolis police officers executing George Floyd, and of the fact that COVID-19 disproportionately harms black and brown people. I have been a pastor in Minneapolis, and my heart is heavy as people have taken to the streets to demonstrate against injustice. The videos have helped some white people to see a bit of what many black and brown people know: White America has long had its knee on our necks. I am sure that some who just read that sentence are saying, “Not all of white America.” But that’s the problem. It’s hard for people of color to feel that white America is with us and not against us. White America has not demonstrated the collective resolve to repent, rebuke, and reorient itself against racial injustice. That includes Christians. White Christians can opt out of outrage over racial injustice. The status quo works for them.

Consider, for example, the tenacious support many evangelicals give to President Donald Trump, who told police on Long Island, New York, in 2017 to “not be too nice” with suspects. He appeared to encourage heavy-handedness, if not outright brutality. His then press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had to walk back the president’s comments, saying he was joking. Police brutality is not a laughing matter. White Christians are watching the screens, maybe shaking their heads, but largely immobile. Rather than justice overflowing (Amos 5:24), it trickles down, …

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