I am heartbroken over the devasting public lynching of George Floyd while he was in the custody of police. This act of violence is unfortunately an example of the thousands of other incidents like it that continue to plague people of color in America. As Will Smith once have said, “racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed”. I’ve struggled with what to say or do amid all that’s happening in our country and around the world. As a leader in my community and as a woman of faith, it has been extremely hard for me to control my anger and frustration while also staying true to my Christian morals and values. Last month I, along with other people of color around the world, was mourning the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. I can recall myself just weeping on the morning of Mother’s Day because I, as a mother of a black son, simply could not fathom the pain that Ahmaud’s mother is feeling. Ironically, Ahmaud Arbery’s mother gave birth to him on Mother’s Day 25 years ago.
This past March, Breonna Taylor was fatally shot and killed by police while in the comfort of her own home and her tragic murder received little to no coverage due to the ongoing pandemic. The officers that were responsible have had no charges against them, and 3 of the 4 officers involved in the lynching of George Floyd have not been arrested either. How much longer can we just sit around and watch a flawed system take our spouses, our children, our siblings, and our friends? Peaceful protests, trendy hashtags, graphic t-shirts, and controversial rap songs are not enough. There are some who will say that if we just comply with the police or if we just respect the system, then we will be safe. I must reject that falsehood because too many incidents have proven that to be untrue. In just 4 short months, America has taught us that you can be in handcuffs complying with the police and still lose your life, you can be in your home watching a movie and still lose your life, you can be going for a jog in your own neighborhood and still lose your life. Our system is flawed and America still has a remnant of racism and hate that is undeniable.
So, what do we do? Here are 10 things that I believe we all can and should do.
*10. I will be teaming up with some leaders here in Philadelphia to organize efforts in our community. I will keep everyone posted as those efforts develop.
Pastor Jennifer M. Joseph