Current events: Killings Related to Racism

Here is what I consider a good, “safe” statement by some of my leaders in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ):

There is, of course, an enormous onus on those in positions of leadership, even far in excess of those walking the beats, to address systemic racism in police forces, and to dismantle the fraternity spirit that resists efforts to make the police (at least particular police forces) better public servants.

But tonight I am sensing an onus on those of us calling for cultural changes in police forces, as well.  The rhetoric by which calls for change has been made is often not helpful.  (I should qualify this by saying that I haven’t carefully attended to a wide scope of the discourse; my impression is based on a pretty superficial observation of mainstream media.)  This rhetoric is in part an inevitable outcome of circumstances.  The Black Lives Matter movement has proceeded without centralized leadership, and in the age of social media, the voices dominating the air are those of the immediate relatives of victims, who should not be expected to speak in a measured and careful way.  But we do need that care and measure.  That is, excessive and hyperbolic rhetoric (for instance, “this is a war against black America”)  only encourages the police establishment and its allies to circle their wagons (I’m not happy with that turn of phrase).

Nonviolent protest is admirable and the BLM movement has done so wonderfully, at least on occasion.  But the absence of physical violence does not suffice in the pursuit of peace.  (I have been reflecting today on Gandhi’s principle of Satyagraha, “truth-power.”)  What I’d like to see is for protest against the police establishment to present simple, clear, and dispassionate claims and goals.  Let us simply state, without exaggeration and with backing in demonstrable fact and values, wherein lies the injustice.  Then let us call for reasonable demands that interested parties (the police) can imagine meeting.  We have a right to be angry, but sharing our anger together is not the same as effectively reaching out to disarm someone we are in conflict with and lead them to peace.  I am thankful for the voices on both sides that still allow for real hope of progress, but I am afraid that without great vigilance, the mechanisms at work will outdo them.


One thought on “Current events: Killings Related to Racism

  1. Whenever there is terrorism of any type everyone always, rightfully, condemns this violent behavior. However, it is also blatantly obvious and extremely noticeable that no one ever questions the…WHY…for this violent behavior.
    “What social, economic, religious, and/or political conditions would an individual have to endure to create the mentality of hopelessness and helplessness thereby motivating that individual to make a personal sacrifice as a direct result to that frustration, and to believe that act would be an expression that would identify the causes and sources of those conditions and to initiate change”.
    This question, attempting to understand the …WHY…does not imply condoning or acceptance of this violent behavior, only the …WHY? What must be questioned and discussed are the germinal causes, and the original determinants for the violent behavior. Over the past sixty-five (65) the germinal causes and original determinants have become blurred, they have evolved, and changed character, they have become almost unrecognizable. Without this concerted effort to question and discuss, no amount of violent behavior will ever correct an (old) injustice. The vast majority of Americans are grossly ignorant of the germinal causes and original determinants and do not realize that they have had their thinking, information, and behavior controlled, and manipulated, and that they have been intimidated into obedience, conformity and silence. The vast majority fear the religious, the social, the political, the economic stigmas and repercussions, and fear of being ostracized if they question and discuss the…WHY? This fear and control has been accomplished by sixty-five (65) years of television and radio, and politicians, and religious persons telling Americans what to think and how to behave. No one should be intimidated, and no one should have their questions and discussions controlled and manipulated in their pursuit of the…WHY…while attempting to correct an (old) injustice. Russell G. Harms


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