Intersections International’s Statement on Racism and the Current Civil Unrest
"Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the Lord.”
- Leviticus 19:16 (NLT)
Our nation is hurting. We are hurting. We are praying and we are marching. We are crying and shouting from our burning streets, a malevolent virus still at our heels. A life was taken beneath a blue knee and the world ignited with passion and indignation, outrage and incredulity at yet another black breath suffocated.
More than four hundred years ago, our church answered the call to go into the new world. The Dutch Reformed Church was integrally involved in the businesses that supported the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which first brought people of color to New Amsterdam.
Attribution: Shane Aldendorff, Unsplash.com
We repent because of the role The Collegiate Church of New York played in supporting systems that perpetuated inequity and racism. Intersections International, as the youngest of five Collegiate ministries, is committed to meeting the urgent needs of the world’s most marginalized, while seeking justice, reconciliation and peace.
America has a long history of racism and discrimination. It is deeply embedded in our institutions, social structures and cultural mores. Racism is firmly enmeshed in American politics, policing, criminal justice, income equality, education, healthcare, gender equity and housing policy. The work of dismantling systems of oppression is multilayered and arduous. The current turmoil we are experiencing is boiling point frustration, expressing “enough is enough!”. Black people are angry because their pleas and screams for equality have been mostly ignored.
Attribution: Paul Dilakian
Intersections condemns the horrific death of George Floyd. Three police officers sworn to uphold the law and sworn “to protect with courage, to serve with compassion” stood by idly while former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, pinning a dying man to the pavement for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. We must never normalize police-sanctioned violence and the killing of unarmed people of any color.
Attribution: (left and center) Julie Johnson Staples, J.D and (right) Marcia Fingal
We call on governments around the world to hold all police and civilian perpetrators of violence and racist acts of hate accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We urge elected officials across the globe to commit to addressing police brutality and excessive use of force in their communities. We celebrate the leadership demonstrated in Berlin, which on Thursday, June 4, 2020 passed historic legislation making it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on background, skin color, gender, religion, disabilities, worldview, age, class, education or sexual identity. We also are grateful to God that the New York State Senate and House finally voted to repeal 50-A, a state law used by police departments to hide officer misconduct and shield disciplinary records.
Attribution: Victoria C. Anderson
We urge people the world over to continue gathering in peaceful protest -- as they have in Berlin, Paris, London, Sydney, Manchester, Munich and Rome -- raising their voices in solidarity with U.S. voices in mass protests against racism.
We bear witness to the centuries of suffering black people have endured, suffering that includes marginalization and discrimination of LGBT persons of color, those living with HIV and AIDS and the dramatic levels of violence experienced especially by transgender women of color.
Attribution: (left) Victoria C. Anderson and (right) Paul Dilakian
At Intersections, our role as a social justice ministry is to spread love and healing, while continuing to shine light on humanity’s dark places. Jesus was a revolutionary and God’s love does not discriminate. God’s love empowers us to reach across lines of difference and dispel any belief that those differences somehow divide us. Radical love and compassion can unite us if we take the time to understand those who are different from us, develop empathy for others and believe the stories of the marginalized.
Together, as a global community we can create a fresh depiction of equity, mutuality and harmony in our world. We can commit to spreading a gospel that says “God is still speaking.” Our collective souls have bloodied the land and we can forgive humanity for every life lost. Healing is still a real possibility as we navigate these turbulent times.
Attributions: (left) Maddy Hunt, Unsplash.com and (right) Marcia Fingal
It is only through unwavering love and a staunch commitment to justice, that we will find our way toward peaceful outcomes. Hatred begets hatred, the same for darkness and evil. Violence diminishes purpose and progress; looting is simply criminal. Sustainable change rarely comes without cost and we already know power does not easily yield its grip.
The glaring reality is that inequality has been accelerated and magnified by the pandemic we are all living under. There is no going back to our pre-COVID-19 lives as we watch the globe erupt. There is no going back to the lives we had before those breathtaking, life-extinguishing minutes that changed everything.
In this 21st Century struggle for justice and determining new ways of policing communities of color, white allies must do the necessary work. Educate yourselves on the innate privilege your skin color brings. Let us have the difficult conversations with family and friends who minimize demands that people of color should live with the same sense of safety and dignity as white Americans.
We all have a stake in the future we build together.
Attribution: Marcia Fingal
Our collective voices and actions matter. Our lives and how we show up matter. Our faith and prayers matter. We can attempt to name the countless dead unjustly murdered through the savagery of slavery, the ugliness of police brutality and deeply rooted racial constructs. There is power in calling the names of martyred souls. But perhaps, instead, let us work to ensure our children’s children will not have new names to hashtag.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Attribution: Marcia Fingal