entary School in Uvalde, Texas. When will people of faith move beyond "thoughts and prayers" to take substantive action?
The mass murder of 10 Black Americans Saturday May 14 was sickening to all people of conscience. The shooter left massive evidence of his deliberate and calculated intent in his car and on his electronic gear. This was not an act of a mentally-ill person but one who carefully and deliberately planned the attack to get rid of as many Black people as possible.
We by now have read that he embraced the “replacement theory” propagated by extremists. It is the fear, that has been around since at least the 1960s, that the white race (as if it’s one solid block of people) is being replaced by people of color, especially immigrants. Why that led the shooter to target Black Americans is unclear, but extremism is rarely rational.
The shooting at a supermarket, TOPS, on the East Side has more than general horror for me. I lived in Buffalo for many years and was the originator of an effort to get a community-owned supermarket into that neighborhood. “Our Market” was its name. It did not succeed for a lot of reasons, the TOPS finally came to this food desert area.
I’m glad of that, but the effort to build a community owned store was wonderful; it put me in contact with many community members and especially with the Masden District then-Council Member, David Collins who was a man of extraordinary vision and concern for his constituents. He had a civil rights legacy second to few, and his actions were always principled and concerned for people and their needs.
Thanks to David’s friendship, I was involved in his campaigns, his activism for social justice, and through him met other good people, some of whom became friends. For years they were my “warmth of other suns”, anchors in my city to what was good, righteous, just, and downright fun. I associate all we did as passionate justice coupled with raucous laughter, hard work followed by dancing, unending campaigning and delicious food. It just doesn’t get better than that.
To have this area the target of such hate is incomprehensible. To have these people, these good, decent, hard-working, and loving people, cut down so disgustingly is almost more than I can bear.
How do we end these horrors? For those of us who are white, where is our voice in all this? How do our congregations and our voices matter?
When do we make manifest that “All God’s Children” does not have qualifiers? When we hear a congressional representative say children refugees at the border don’t deserve infant formula, when we read of hate crimes on the rise against everyone but especially Asian Americans blamed for COVID, when we see LGBTQ people targeted for simply being who they are, we see that too many professed Christians have “exception clauses” in their hearts. When people die for the color of their skin, we have well and truly lost our way.
It is up to us. We have to bear witness against hate.. We cannot be silent. These are not political issues – these are the most profound values of faith and democracy. It takes courage, no doubt about it, but we will not honor either our faith or our nation is we are silent. Silence is assent. And it is a moral cowardice we can no longer accept.
We have to challenge bias, prejudice, hate rhetoric, and acts of violence. We have to call out our elected officials who engage in such disgusting lies. We need to write to them, we need to challenge the media both locally and nationally to stop promoting “replacement theory” or any other biased and inhumane propaganda that serves to dehumanize anyone.
When Asian women were shot to death in Atlanta, the chief of police said the shooter was “having a bad day”. A bad DAY? The public outcry led to an apology from the chief and a renewed effort to investigate the hate-based murders.
Here in Sacramento at a public meeting a city council member blamed the meth epidemic on Latin American immigrants. That is absolutely not true; meth is a local “cottage industry” in white communities around the Bay Area per the Department of Justice. I called him out on it for inflaming both anti-immigrant and anti-homeless views here in Sacramento.
Word got back to me that he hates me. Fine. Oddly, I can live with that. Who would I be if that had gone unchallenged? He can hate me. I bet he never says that again.
If we are going to sit in our pews on Sunday, we have to live the Word the remainder of the week. No one will stop this hate but us. We must do it with courage and without returning the hate. But we must do it.
We can be silent no more.