Evil, racism and systems of white supremacy unaddressed will continue to sink and surge and pulsate into the veins of our society leaving inevitable death in its wake. Sadly this, the shock of the murders of our dear ones, our brothers and sisters in Christ-in church, during worship-this is not a new thing for we who are Americans of the African diaspora, we who consistently believe #blacklivesmatter.” My view of safety, security, the protection of my parents and the (physical) keeping power of Jesus in the face of white hatred was shaped as a 9 year-old little girl when other 9 year-old little girls were killed in a church bombing on a Sunday morning in Birmingham. Now this.
Evil, racism and systems of white supremacy unaddressed continue to sink and surge and pulsate into the veins of our society leaving inevitable death in its wake. During a recent “Chemistry in the Garden” class with a group of 8-12 year olds we made weed killer with vinegar, salt and dish soap. As they each received their spray bottles they asked excitedly, “Will the weeds die right now?!” I explained that no, this weed killer is like evil, it is like sin…it doesn’t kill immediately…it has to enter the root system to kill. Initially everything looks fine, maybe a slight discoloration around the leaves but nothing major. But when you spray the weeds the soap causes the solution to cling to the leaves and the stems and the flowers. And as the solution clings it infiltrates the plant through those flowers and leaves and stems until it permeates the roots of the plant…that’s when the plant dies.
Cutting off the tops of weeds doesn’t kill them. They may appear dormant but they will return and in the next breeze not only will they live, they will spread and multiply. Systems of white supremacy, like evil and sin also may appear dormant, sometimes for long periods of time but on the first good breeze of economic decline, hateful rhetoric and tacit consent they will spread their seeds into new ground and fresh minds and there they will multiply because satan is the prince of the air, “…the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Ephesians 2:2.
I have watched this resurgence of militarized policing of black and brown communities with growing alarm. Adding to my alarm has been the renewed progression and growing participation of un-deputized, Caucasian-white citizens and the tacit consent evidenced by “no charges filed” reports of Caucasian-white prosecutors and acquittals/not guilty verdicts by Caucasian-white juries. The murder of black people in church is part of that progression.
To stop that progression the death of evil, sin, racism and systems of white supremacy requires murder at the root. We require the slow acting yet deadly application of salt into the system, the patience to let it work and the wisdom to know it will. “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:4-8. But patience should not be confused with inaction because like faith, patience does indeed have and she requires work.
Ours is a capitalist democracy and our root system is based on streams of revenue and profit, not streams of justice or mercy. In our children’s gardening classes we talk about the difference between herbaceous and woody plants, annuals and perennials, fruits, vegetables and herbs. We talk about which we want to feed and support and which we want to eradicate. We do not feed weeds and everywhere except our Bee & Butterfly Pollinator Garden, we remove weeds-at the root.
We need to infiltrate and destroy the root system of evil, sin, racism and systems of white supremacy. There are multiple, meaningful ways to achieve that goal but one of those must include holding our discretionary dollars in abeyance. We cannot continue to consciously feed a system that is working to destroy us; that would be ignorant and all through the New Testament we are cautioned “…be not ignorant.” A significant drought in the streams of commerce and revenue is necessary if we wish to eradicate these roots. Wisdom dictates we apply ourselves in this collective effort to heal, preserve and season our society with our salt of disciplined social justice. Otherwise why are we here? “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Matthew 5:13.
The New Testament church has to be about excellence, liberation theology and the work of social justice or it is not about anything except conservative, “patriotism as civic religion” cautioned about in 2 Timothy 3:5, Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” There is no actual intersection between civic religion and the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was always teaching, healing, feeding and praying…there are no descriptions of Him singing or dancing or expressing any nationalsit fervor because He was busy working “…wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Luke 2:49. And for those who say, wrongfully I might add, that we must just have faith that God will handle it I point again to the scripture, What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? James 2:14.
After the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer a group of Sunday School sisters, knowing that prayer alone was not sufficient, began the work of a 365-Day Consecration for Peace, Justice and Economic Discipline-with a commitment to reduce the discretionary spending of black women by 50%.*
We continued working on it and posting about it for several 365-Day cycles…through the murders of Renisha McBride and Michael Brown and Tamir Rice and others…but we could not generate enough social media solution for our salt to penetrate the root system of sin and evil, systems of white supremacy and racism. So the weeds of systems of white supremacy continue to grow and thrive and choke out our lives. No wonder we, like Eric Garner, can’t breathe.