United Church of Christ

Commentary: How Long Lord…How Long?

Last week Maurice E. Stallard and Vicki Lee Jones were murdered while shopping at a Kroger grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. They were minding their business, going about their day, and never anticipated that a white man filled with racist hatred would take their lives.

Prior to murdering Stallard and Jones, Gregory Alan Bush had driven to a predominately African American church ten minutes away. If the doors of First Baptist Church had opened easily, there may have been more Black people murdered by Bush, a white man from Louisville, Kentucky.

Bush was handcuffed, arrested and peacefully escorted to a police car. His body was not riddled with bullets fired by police officers. That peaceful escort to the squad car reminded me of how differently white men are treated when they maliciously and heinously murder Black people. He is a racist terrorist. Yet, there was not enough boldness and truth telling to say it. If a Black man or woman had executed two white people in Jeffersontown, Kentucky on October 24th they would have been placed in body bags and been unrecognizable by the city or county coroner.

How long Lord is a passionate question from Psalm 13. How long must we endure the loss of another person of African descent because a segment of white America refuses to relinquish its misbegotten grip on the false narratives and myths of their white skin supremacy?

White people, according to sociologist Robin DiAngelo, are generally terrified of being seen as racist. Yet, when a person of color tells a white colleague or friend they've done something racially problematic, the white person in that exchange rarely reacts with gratitude. Instead, they lash out, shouting at the other person, or crying, or shifting the blame, or insisting (to paraphrase the current president) that they are "the least racist person" in the world.

How long will this lack of accountability be the death of our society, and the ruin of creating safe space for every nonwhite people group in this country? Surely lament is in order as we move into the Advent season. How long will we ignore and treat our neighbors unjustly?

How long will a segment of the Christian Church align itself with our government’s policies that exclude and eliminate our civil and human rights, separate and warehouse families, and traumatize another generation of children?

How long will Christians profess faith in Christ yet continue to violate the command to love our neighbors? And perhaps therein lies the problem: those who love nation over people violate their own souls with false spirituality, false piety, and slanderous worship practices.

How long will we allow hatred, racism, and white supremacy to kill Black bodies?

How long will the Christian Church ignore its ethical and moral responsibilities to tell the leaders of this country that they are emboldening people like Gregory Alan Bush?

How long, Lord? How long?

Velda Love is Minister for Racial Justice for the United Church of Christ.

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