It’s Up to Us to End This
“Another man was lynched today” posts filled my timeline once again. Another African descended human is dead at the hands of injustice, intolerance, and indifference. Another life has been hastened to the ancestors at the hand of white supremacy.
I am sick and tired of this being a bi-weekly occurrence in my life, compounded by the knowledge of the perpetual toxic poisoning of communities of color pleading for the right to breathe long before we heard it on video. That’s not to mention the inept manner in which the COVID-19 pandemic is being handled and the death toll that it is leaving behind. Where and when does it end? It’s up to us to end this.
Fannie Lou Hamer’s feeling of being “sick and tired of being sick and tired” led her to run for office to fight for change at the policy level. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took his righteous indignation to the White House. Our ancestors understood that protesting needed to lead to policy change. Dr. King said, “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.” We must learn who and how to fight. It’s up to us to end this.
One of my mentors, Nathaniel Smith, reminded me once that “demonstration without legislation only leads to frustration.” The Apostle Paul once said, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). He might have also said it like this: “We aren’t grappling with individuals. We wrestle with systems and policies of oppression.” We deal with a system that emboldens humans to use excessive force that often leads to death. We are dealing with policies that empower extraction, waste, and pollution. We are dealing with systems of thought that make a human look at another human and decide that they are uncommon, unclean, unintelligent, and unworthy because that person’s skin produces more melanin. We are dealing with policies that police communities of color, protect white supremacy, and serve the systems of racism. It’s up to us to end this.
Beloved, if we want this to stop, we need to fight the right fight. Frederick Douglass said, “He who would be free must strike the first blow.” I long for the day when we will reorient to fighting the cause instead of the resulting condition. The causes of oppression, injustice, intolerance, and indifference need our attention. Faith leaders, I beg you to re-imagine a ministry that serves the people and not the ego or building. There is great reward in serving the people. Community leaders, I pray that you stand in holy boldness and continue to declare that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. Stand in solidarity with me. Lock arms with me. Speak up with me. Do something with me. It’s up to us to end this.
The Rev. Michael Malcom is the Executive Director for Alabama Interfaith Power & Light and the People’s Justice Council. Find him on Twitter: @mtmalcom.