Thoughts on the Police Killing of George Floyd and Reactions of the People –
Imagine being surrounded by a system, a culture, where you are being watched, judged, and treated “different” from the happy faces on tv or media. Where you, yes you, cannot go into a store without attention to your presence, without suspicion of intent, and pre-judgment about ability to pay. Imagine getting seconds, and thirds in education, in jobs, in consideration. Imagine your children being in danger from neighbors and police just for being on the street playing, your spouse for jogging, or just driving to work… imagine this for your whole life.
Inside, I would be so angry, I’d want to burn this society down… I would want to tear it apart, break its windows, its police cars, its racist stores. I would burn down the second, third rate housing relegated to, and hope to take down the property of those profited off of my oppression. Yes, I’d be in the streets if it were my brother, cousin, neighbor, fellow human in oppression, killed so callously, LIKE SO MANY BEFORE!
I explained this to my father, as we watched the riots on tv in the 60’s, hoping he got a glimmer of the truth, the truth that still surrounds us today, that this is a deeply racist and hateful society to many people, and finding ways to hold onto the rage, to find “constructive ways to change,” as suggested by white people in easy chairs, is just so much bullshit. I think a broken police car, a store relieved of its goods, a cleansing fire, might not fix things, but it is an answer to the continuing placement of a police and judicial and economic and societal systems knees on the necks of brown and black (and so many other) people. Violence begets violence… what have we asked for in keeping our racist and oppressive society as it is? What indeed.
My religion, expressing “how I want to live,” is Unitarian Universalism, and we have been, and are, working so hard to figure out how to break the bonds of racism and oppression in our own systems of church polity, in our own very “white” congregations as we try to follow our Principles of Worth and Dignity of all human beings, striving for justice, equity and compassion in our relations. We fail often enough, but we also keep trying, because we are people who come to our faith not by command, creed or dogma, but by inner search – recognition of experiences in life that show us small truths that guide us… like it is so obvious we are interdependent, on each other, on our planet, to survive. So we figure out ways to make it work; it is our mission, it is our vision – World community with peace, liberty and justice for all. Something may have to be torn down to let this community be built, but isn’t that the way of the universe? Death, the tearing apart of things, makes for the building blocks of the new. It is messy, and some object that they liked it the way it was… but there are parts of the old found in the new, especially if folks get out of their easy chair and help the demolition and building. So may it be. Rev. Jim Parrish.