"I Can't Breathe..." Honest Conversations About Institutional Racism in America...
On May 25th, 2020, an African American man named George Floyd had his life stifled out of his body as a Minneapolis, MN police officer knelt down upon his neck, his full weight upon his airways. Mr. Floyd's painful cry for help, his plea to breathe, his cries for his deceased mother were all ignored. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds he suffered in humiliation, pain, agony. Three other policemen knelt down upon his body, his hands cuffed behind his back. As a young woman courageously stood in front of the scene video taping the tragic event, the police officer looked at the cell phone camera as if to say, "So what?"
This happened in AMERICA. Unfortunately, this was not the first time an unarmed, non-violent African American cried out for help and to breathe, due to being strangled at the hand of rogue police officers. The WORLD saw the video footage and is crying out for systemic changes. How many more lives must be lost before we acknowledge the pandemic named RACISM? The CHURCH must not remain silent. We must emphatically declare, BLACK LIVES MATTER!!! Some might question, why the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” is so important. While all lives do matter, it is BLACK LIVES that continue to be disproportionately terrorized, oppressed, disenfranchised and murdered figuratively and literally by police.
Our Nation appears to be on the verge of a break through. Like never before, people of all racial backgrounds are joining together by the thousands, demanding change and declaring, BLACK LIVES MATTER. We are at the door. May we recognize that the occurrences of recent days are not new. May we emerge from the pit with new understandings and patterns of thinking that refuse to dismiss the pain of others. May we continue to do what we know to be right and not leave undone the “weightier matters” of justice, mercy and faithfulness. May we recognize that the problem is not just “a few bad apples” on the police force, but rather an institutionalized, systemic, pervasive, historic inculcation of privilege, power, abuse, control and subjugation of African Americans, tied to the long shadow of slavery. May we do all we can to break down the door of racism, inequality, injustice and indifference.
We must stand. We must lead the tough conversations. We must search our hearts and ask ourselves, "What can I do to make a difference?" We must listen. We must learn. We must engage. We must VOTE and send individuals who will not work to break the back of systems that perpetuate inequality and injustice back home. May our prayers empower our hearts, minds and feet to march towards justice!
Pastor Chris Smith,
Senior Pastor, Restoration Ministries of Greater Cleveland, Inc., Euclid, Ohio
Watch Pastor Chris' interview with local news station, 19 Action News regarding Mr. Floyd's death .