We all watched with horror last week as white supremacists breeched the Capitol, leaving a pool of blood, death and destruction in their wake. As an African American, my first thought was simple, “White people can get away with anything in this country.”
I admit I covet your sense of safety. It’s unfair. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be you. To feel safe.
Safety is a pleasure Blacks in America never have experienced. I regularly fear mundane experiences like driving after dark, digging in my purse too much if I’m in a store, or talking with the police knowing my blackness can be perceived as a threat. Knowing my life can be in danger simply because you say so. Unarmed Black people have been killed in this country for nothing more than trying to live. Treyvon Martin was walking home. Ahmaud Arbery was just jogging in his neighborhood. Breonna Taylor was sleeping in her bed.
Yet you could storm the Capitol with weapons and feel safe enough to take selfies. While at that same location, peaceful protesters who marched to protest the unjust murders of unarmed African American men and women were met with militarized force.
To be clear, white supremacists were spurred to take over the Capitol by the president of the United States and his repeated and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud that were litigated and defeated in more than 60 court cases. President Trump sought to invalidate votes in states with large populations of African Americans, just so he could attempt to win an election.
I’m curious how many of you called your representative or senator to call out this blatant example of racism. How many of your churches mentioned that political acts to silence the voice of African Americans are unethical and intentional means to maintain a society where some whites don’t want blacks to feel safe?
As I sat watching the news, I saw so many of my white friends take to social media to call our nation to pray.
Dear white Christians, a word about that. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus called us to “watch and pray.”
“I personally don’t want to hear one more person call for prayer unless you are willing to match your words with immediate action.”
Dear white Christians, are you done praying yet? To be clear, your selective obedience to only pray falls a bit short. I have to call a spade a spade. I need you to stop hiding behind prayer. Black people have noticed it is more than a crutch for white Christians when it comes to racial justice and violence generally. Surely there is something else you can contribute to society more than your thoughts and prayers. If the only call to action you can handle is prayer, you must earnestly consider if you take Scripture seriously. Faith without works is dead. I personally don’t want to hear one more person call for prayer unless you are willing to match your words with immediate action.
Dear white Christians, I feel confident that when Jesus called us to watch and pray he did not have in mind watching white Christians violently rioting with nooses and Christian flags. Jesus clearly defines watching in Matthew 24:4-5. He says: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.”
Dear white Christians, have you fallen back asleep? I know many of you claimed to wake up to the racial injustice experienced by African Americans after watching the 8-minute and 46-second murder of George Floyd; however, I haven’t noticed many white churches taking concrete steps to confront systematic racism. I don’t need someone to simply understand me or mourn with me. Scripture calls you to intervene, so no one is deceived. This means watching is supposed to be proactive, not reactive. For the love of God, stop waiting for the Black church to request your help and keep watch.
“For the love of God, stop waiting for the Black church to request your help and keep watch.”
Dear white Christians, have you noticed your analysis paralysis? It seems your churches that have acknowledged their deep need to repent and repair the ills you have contributed to and benefited from struggle to find the most faithful next step. So much planning. So little action. If the only thing you have managed to do since last summer is read a book, might I suggest you move a bit faster? It doesn’t seem you understand the urgency of this moment.
Dear white Christians, can you attempt to stay awake and watch and pray a bit longer this time? Like Jesus, I’m getting tired of waking you up.
Natasha Nedrick is a Baptist minister and an empowerment coach based in Atlanta.