Ferguson, Justice, and Jesus

November 02 2015

today, we will clean up the streets
give our kids lunch to eat
but the real feat
is to not retreat
from proclaiming peace
when the cameras peace
we must still shout
for righteousness and justice
for windows that are busted
for the police who are cussed at.
Baltimore, it’s time
for us to rise up
defeat the lies of
the media and the enemy
who want us to flee
pack up our resources and leave
prioritize safety over this city’s needs
but we choose to stay
we choose to pray
we choose to make
quiet streets
do not equal peace
the anger still boils beneath
silenced mouths
corralled crowds
10pm bound
in the house
that’s not peace
it’s prison
a box to live in
little freedom given
potential kept hidden
we can’t listen
to oppressed voices
like this
so release
the captives
peace is not passive
it’s active.
it’s not a magic balm
used to quickly calm
the burn
of generations of hurt
the wounds can’t just be soothed and made better
easily glued back together
the quick fix
will always miss
the mark
leaving another scar
on an already bruised arm.
peace is more than the absence of violence
streets filled with silence
a night without riots
we need peace that’s shalom
everything made whole.
a divine overflow
of resources, justice, and hope
shalom isn’t just disaster relief
marching in the streets
contributing to news feeds
but addressing real, deep historic needs
even though these are noble deeds
it’s just the planting of seeds
we need to sustainably grow trees
commit our lives to seeking
by listening, lamenting, learning
standing beside the hurting
declaring “black lives are worthy”
when society says they aren’t deserving
we must be open to
learning what might be contradictory
to what we learned in history
through systemic educational trickery
that leaves the facts on the periphery
until the lies we read
are defied by the
we must listen to the oppressed voices
as more than just noises
easily voided
and cast aside
but stories that bring the statistics to life
shalom won’t come overnight
justice isn’t just an indictment
isn’t just finding enlightenment
there is so much more
for us to hope for
than simply cordial rapport
shalom is wholeness
blessed are the peacemakers
for they will be called children of God.

(I wrote the above during the Baltimore Uprising.)

Yesterday, I was with Hands Up United organizers in St. Louis. Suddenly, they got a message on their phones and pain overtook their faces. Another young black male was killed by police near Ferguson. (Witnesses say police shot him from 6 feet away in the mouth. The police report says he shot himself. If you want more info or to see the heartbreaking video of his mother screaming, “Don’t shoot my baby!” look up #AmonderezGreen. Yes, another young black male has become a hashtag.)

If we don’t see Jesus as a marginalized brown-skinned Jew living on the underside of the oppressive system of the Roman Empire, then we don’t really see Jesus. If we don’t know that the Gospel speaks directly to the foreigner, the poor, and the minority, then we don’t really know the Gospel. And if we don’t hear the narrative of those most oppressed in the streets of Baltimore, in the streets of St. Louis, then we don’t really hear the voice of Jesus.

The Church has been absent from this conversation and complicit in oppression. I’m sorry. We can do better because Jesus calls us to be better.

Kaylyn Brown
[email protected]
Baltimore, Maryland

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