The Shocking Necessity of Racist Violence


It takes cruelty and brute force for human subjugation to work.

Stony the road we trod
Bitter the chastening rod
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died…

God of our weary years
God of our silent tears…

(excerpts from “Lift Every Voice and Sing”)

Humans were created by love, for love, to love. As such, we hold a number of love-directed freedoms that persist despite sin and distortion of our loves. Sin, while grievous and comprehensive, does not recreate our humanity nor destroy our first-ordained purposes. When our love- and freedom-empowered design is restricted or oppressed by sin, we are compelled to resist. We cry out. We push back or seek shelter. We strategize and plan. We protest and legislate. We prophesy and lament. We are human. Consequently, unrelenting violence and all of its forms—physical, psychological, and theological—is necessary to maintaining human subjugation. Racism requires violence. Throughout the history of what is now the United States of America, violence, the generational scars of it, and the threat of more to come, has been an inexorable part of the race story.

The “race riots” of Oklahoma, Chicago, St. Petersburg, and Atlanta, and the history before them, seeded the Great Migration that forced families like mine to journey from Mississippi to Maryland. Some followed the call of our escaped enslaved ancestors even past the borders of the United States.

An acclaimed psychologist, the late Olivia Hooker, tells of being a small girl during the massacre on Tulsa’s Black Wall Street district in the early 1920s. The slaughter destroyed over 30 city blocks, leveled more than 1,200 homes, and killed 300 people. The Oklahoma governor declared martial law and mobilized the National Guard to imprison every black …

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