The first half of 2020 has been unprecedented, to say the least. We’ve seen a novel coronavirus spread across the globe, causing shutdowns of schools, places of business, airlines and mass transportation, and professional sports leagues. Some countries have closed their borders.
The 14.7% unemployment rate in the U.S. in April 2020 was the highest since 1940 at the tail-end of the Great Depression. https://www.thebalance.com/unemployment-rate-by-year-3305506
Almost 18 million Americans are out of work, including 3 million who have lost their jobs permanently.
The United States has had more than 4 million cases of COVID-19, with approximately 150,000 deaths.
Police have killed 598 people so far in 2020. Blacks have made up 23% of those killed by police since 2003, despite being only 13% of the U.S. population. White on Black crimes, including assault and murder, seem to have risen, according to news reports, although clear data is hard to obtain because of differing characterizations of Hispanics.
The names of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, and James Garcia have become part of our lexicon. Sandra Bland and Ahmaud Arbery were not killed by police hands, but their deaths are a result of systemic racism.
What does it mean for a society when a person’s name becomes synonymous with police brutality? What does that say about us as individuals?
The three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) teach that we are – each and every one of us – made in the image of God. There is a moral component to our creation. We – each and every one of us – possess the attributes of God: justice, mercy and love.
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God?” Micha 6:8.
The Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him, taught: “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab.” Islam teaches equality.
Do we see the reality of God in everyone? If we did, George Floyd would not be dead. Had Derek Chauvin seen the One True God when he looked at George Floyd, he could not have knelt on his neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds until he stopped breathing.
There is a universal moral tradition that our purpose on this earth is to participate in the perfection of this world – what Christians call the Kingdom of God. Jesus the Christ taught that the Kingdom of God is right here, right now.
We will not complete the work of perfection, but we can’t not work toward it. We can’t be neutral in this conflict. If we are not working to dissemble the structures of racism, then we are complicit in maintaining them.
West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry is working toward an anti-racist society in which all are seen as having been made in the image of God and all are welcome. Come. Join us. Follow us on Facebook to see how you can be an ally with us.