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Racism and the Death of George Floyd

Posted: 6/1/20 at 3:00pm. Written by John Upton.

John Upton

It has been several weeks since Easter, when life was exuberant and expectant. We were so hopeful, even though we worshiped in ways different from our norm because of COVID-19. Now, weeks have passed, and life does not seem as hopeful as it did. The death of George Floyd took our breath away and ignited a rage that has been building with racial tragedies across the country.

I sympathize with those who live on a daily basis with the injustices that plague our society, but I want to do more than sympathize. I want my African-American friends and Latino friends to know how much we are determined to right the wrongs and how much we want to take action in doing so. I am an Anglo male and have not experienced the discrimination and prejudice so many have endured all their lives. I need to hear my neighbors with open, attentive ears and walk alongside them.

When I genuinely hear my African-American friends, I know they are not speaking from philosophy of the way things ought to be or from a different perspective. They are speaking from pain. They are speaking from the realism of pain, from the agonizing knowledge of being brutally mistreated, and from cruelty that is relentless and real. Any claim of faith that tosses that aside and does not carry the ruin and the meanness of the world is not real—at least not in a way that matters.

Let us feel the brokenness and the truthfulness of what is being protested. Let us commit ourselves to equality and dignity of all persons as we grieve the death of George Floyd. Let us grieve the misuse of force while being thankful for those in law enforcement who march with the protestors.

I am so grateful for a faith whose risen Lord still bore the wounds of his brutal treatment. The world is still wounded, so the risen Christ must be wounded. Wounds tell the truth of the world in which we are living and in which the living Christ dwells. Jesus bears all these wounds towards a redemption and ultimately healing.

Let us pray for our country, for our African-American neighbors, and for our local, state, and national leaders as they seek justice and peace. As Virginia Baptists we stand ready to move to that end in the power of the risen Christ.

John Upton is Executive Director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV).