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Our Broken Pieces

July 6, 2020 by Rev. Sharletta M. Green

The killing of yet another human being, who is Black/African American, like an animal by one sworn to protect and serve captured on video has ignited a cycle that is familiar in our country:  

  • Peaceful protests exploding into violence as those who are malice infiltrate the movement for justice to cause harm;
  • Waiting to see if the wheels of justice will act swiftly or will another murderer go free;
  • Wondering, as a citizen, when we will find and embrace a cure for the virus of racism that infects every part of a nation that claims freedom and still enslaves through unjust laws, inhumane practices, and taxpayer-funded genocide.

I pause and lament: Years of hatred and our broken pieces, engineered fear, and the social construction of race is ripping us apart at the seams as a country. This struggle is not new, but how long will it take for the hatred and fear that erupts in the callous murder of innocent people in streets like animals recorded for the world to see cease? Nothing can bring back the lives slain in cold blood. Nothing can remove the fear of not being safe in the place that is my home. The list of names is too long. My siblings, whose lives were snuffed out too soon—George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery—join the blood that cries out for justice from the ground that spans through the generations.

My heart is grieved; my soul is tired of this same old refrain. I am angry because this death march of my people should not be. What can heal the dis-ease of the soul of the United States of America? God, how do we stop the racism and white supremacy that plagues us still today? We have fought, served, saved, defended, and loved a place that still considers us foreigners and responds to us like enemy combatants in a war that never ends.

More than can be counted, tears fall for strangers and their families that look like me and the haunting thought that I could be next. I could be sleeping in my bed and get shot because the police are in the wrong place. I could be walking down the street and be mistaken for someone else and have my life snuffed out before I can plead my case. It could be my family member, my child, my friend. Every Black person in this country entertains these thoughts more often than we want to voice. We are not safe. Our homes are not safe. We have no safe-haven for the place we have built and given our lives, children, and our best. America is not a safe place for Black people to reside.

What becomes of this place, the land of the free and home of the brave, when free ain't really free and many of the "brave" are hell-bent on killing anyone who looks like me?

We are in the space of collective grief and outrage. The knot that catches in my throat as the hurt, the anger, the brokenness that has lost the ability to articulate this generational grief pours out in the streets. A rational response is no longer a reality. When collective rage and grief comingle with years of mistreatment and violence inflicted on vulnerable communities erupts, the destruction that ensues consumes us all in the end.

Silence is no longer an option. Facebook posts and tweets don't help us. The dominant culture must move from spaces of comfort and privilege to action. Dominant culture must hold those in their circles who say harmful, racist things accountable. Invite those who hide behind the cross, who are Christian bullies using scriptures as weapons of mass destruction, to understand and wrestle with the truth of the gospel that invites us all to love, be loved, and extend love. Dominant culture must use its power and privilege, platforms and protests to shift a culture of hate and violence to one of peace and radical love.

Exhaustion grips my soul. Please see us—not just the color of our skin. Please value our humanity and not just the ways our bodies and culture entertain you. Please honor us—we, too, are humans created in the image of God who deserve to live into the dream of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" (Thomas Jefferson). My Black life matters! Our Black lives matter!

Rev. Sharletta M. Green is founder and coach of Centered Wholeness Coaching and an ordained elder in the West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church.

For a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism, click here.

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Our resolve must be different. My prayer is that we have finally reached a tipping point. My hope is that when the protests fade and the marches slow that our will as a church to truly eradicate the scourge of racism won’t dissipate but grows even stronger.” View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.