Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” ends with Hamlet saying, “In this harsh world, draw thy breath in pain to tell my story.”
When this harsh world continues to give us tragic, racially charged, and unnecessary deaths of black sisters and brothers, it is way past time to speak up, regardless of how painful or uncomfortable it might be. The list of Black lives who have been needlessly killed grows each day. The killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, are more chapters of the pervasive culture of racism and white privilege in our country.
We have been fighting the pandemic of racism and white supremacy my entire lifetime. Whether you and I understand it or not, we are complicit in the racism that is ravaging our communities, our public institutions, our churches, and our families. Racism is deeply embedded in our white identity.
Draw Our Breath to Speak
Today, I draw my breath in pain to name and condemn white nationalism.
We have 400 years of history to face if we are going to change our future.
As we draw our breath to speak, we have a Word upon which to stand. If we are to change our future, we must stand upon this Word.
- It is a Word that claims every human being, regardless of color, gender, nationality, is a child of God. This is not rhetoric. We are of one family and we are responsible for one another.
- It is a Word that claims the unconditional embrace of each and every family member in the face of discrimination and exclusion based upon color or gender.
- It is a Word that declares God’s unapologetic advocacy of and standing with our sisters and brothers who are oppressed and marginalized.
- It is a Word that cries for God’s inescapable justice against embedded hatred and habitual violence. Regardless of what we call it, hatred has no place in our human family.
Draw Our Breath to Acknowledge Racism
Now, let us draw our breath and acknowledge that racism is sin and a direct assault on the Word upon which we stand. Let us confess and renounce our own complicity. Let us stand against all expressions of racism and white supremacy, beginning with the racial, cultural, and class disparities in our country, our state, and our church.
If we are to face our history of racism and to shape our future without racism, let us draw our breath to examine our own attitudes and actions. Let us draw our breath as we vote for governmental leaders. Let us draw our breath as we fight the disease that threatens our ideals and the lives, livelihoods, and dignity of too many of our family members. Let us draw our breath to love each other regardless of our differences.
Draw Our Breath as Jesus Followers
Let us draw our breath to be followers of Jesus, who taught us how to live in relationship with God and with one another. Let us draw our breath with transformed hearts as we yield to the righteousness and love of God.
I have not given up hope, but I have decided writing words on a page or posting them on social media is not the answer. So, I am asking you to join me in taking one step toward learning about and stopping racism in your community.
What is one thing you can and will do to learn about the racism in which you participate every day? If you say you are not participating in racism, I say you have some learning to do. If you say you don’t know or have any ideas, email me. I can and will give you some things you can do. If you say you don’t want to and that you are fine the way you are, I will say I am praying for you and for your soul.
In the meantime, let us draw our breath in prayer. Let us pray for the Floyd family, for the Arbery family, and the Taylor family as well as the many families whose lives are tragically altered or whose fears have been heightened as a result of these inexcusable tragedies.
Know that I draw my breath to pray for you, for our church, and for our future as followers of Jesus and as citizens of the United States of America.