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Jul 09, 2016 | Ayesha Mutope-Johnson

Combating Hate With Racial Reconciliation

Today is July 9, 2016.

 

Three nights ago, a friend and fellow member of our local chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians called and asked what we were going to do about the killing of brother Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge who, just the day before, was shot by police at point blank range while they had him pinned to the ground. I started to write, and there was pain.

 

I turned away distracted and checked my Facebook feed.

 

There was this woman, now known as Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, who had posted just 9 minutes earlier the record of the brutal and bloody murder of her boyfriend, Philando Castile. She was practically screaming, and crying – clearly in fear for her own life also – claiming as she videotaped on her phone that the police had shot her boyfriend in the arm, and pleading to God to not let him die and “go out like that”. As the video progressed you could hear her 4-year old daughter growing into a woman that day as she tried to comfort her mother with words of love.

 

This was fresh and raw, and just one day after the earlier death, that I had not yet been able to process.

 

It is three days later, and I am now returning to the task that I started on July 6th – because the pain was too great. A couple of my White friends were very compassionate and quickly reached out with a brief comforting word – one on Facebook, one by email and next day, one on the telephone.

 

What I feel today, practically every Black man and woman (and many Black young people) also feels. A sense of helplessness, a feeling of despair, a tsunami of hopelessness and tons of fear. Some are feeling anger (a secondary emotion, driven by fear.)

 

We march peacefully in Dallas and Atlanta – like we did in Ferguson. We dare not show our anger in mass, we dare not congregate with hate on the street, let no one throw a bottle, or a trash can, or break a storefront window – oh, then it would be Watts all over again. Besides, that is not productive anyways.

 

So we pray, we reach out to our friends, we post on Facebook and Twitter and other social media.

 

And while we are stewing in this swamp of hopelessness, stagnant and unable to move or show our emotions – authentically – a lone, mentally unbalanced brother in Dallas, back from two tours in Afghanistan, loses it and shoots 11 police officers.  Horror!  He has now descended into what Martin Luther King warned us against, and each and every Black person is tagged, and painted with that same brush.

 

No, we are not all angry. No, this woman refuses to live in fear. I like to say I’m too old to run so I can’t participate in the revolution. Ha! But, there is something I can do…

 

I will fight the way I know how. 

 

Racial reconciliation is what I do. I will look at your face, look into your eyes, and seek the ally in you. If I find it, and if you will please seek me out, let’s open the conversations everywhere.

 

Let’s proceed with our study of Jim Wallis’ book, “America’s Original Sin: Race, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America”, starting September 11 (of all days).

 

Let’s read Ta-Nehisi Coates.

 

 

Let’s talk to others – help them to understand how to fight the revolution with knowledge, and education, and sharing with people of all stripes reconciliatory language and touch and action.

 

Let’s talk to our little ones. Turn off the gory recount of the stories on television and discuss love and goodness and hope and reconciliation.

 

Let’s resolve, here and now, today, to do more, no, to do all we can to reverse this culture of viciousness and hate that comes from fear – by how we vote and by how we approach each other as strangers on the streets and by we treat each other – friend, loved one and stranger – today.

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