"A Horrific Week and A Call to Action"
It has been a horrific week for our nation. On Monday, we paused to celebrate our nation's 240th Birthday. But then on the ensuing day, Tuesday, there was the senseless death of a young African American man, Alton Sterling, at the hands of the police in Baton, LA, and it was videotaped for the whole world to see. What was so devastating about the video of Alton's death, was that he didn't seemingly do anything to warrant his shooting. He was tackled to the ground by the police, then someone yelled that he had a gun, however a gun wasn't visible, and then he was shot dead in cold blood.
To add insult to injury, as we were trying to make sense of what happened between the Police Officers and Sterling Brown, on Wednesday, Philando Castile, another young African American man, was also shot to death by a police officer after a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. The shooting occurred while his fiance and her 4-year old daughter were in the car watching it all. The pain was especially felt as Philando's fiance interacted with the Police Officer and calmly expressed her hurt in a live video stream immediately after the shooting. It's a very painful video to watch, and for many, it brings out feelings that we've experienced in the past. It is the feeling of the sting of racism. A feeling that as a Black person in America no matter what you do the decked is stacked against you. The great scholar W.E.B DuBois articulated this feeling well when he said, "One ever feels his twoness - an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."
Compounding it all, on Thursday, in Dallas, as protesters were staging a peaceful march in protest of the deaths of Alto Sterling and Philando Castile, and police officers were marching along with them, a sniper shot 11 police officers, and five of those officers have died. This shooting has been one of the worse shootings of the police in US history.
Where do we go from here and what is God calling us to do as people of faith in the wake of these tragic deaths? First and foremost, God is calling us to mourn. We mourn the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the five police officers, and the thousands of others who have lost their lives to gun violence. We also mourn the loss of civility in our nation and unity across racial and political lines. In addition, we must pray and act for God to bridge the divides and to end police brutality and racism. We must always remember that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Indeed, ultimately, we adhere to the charge of Jesus for us to be salt and light in the world (Matt. 5:13-16). We must spread the love of Christ and hold-up His light for all to see. We also must advocate for the passage of federal, state and local level police and criminal justice reform and gun control legislation to the glory of God.