The Role of Christians in the Black Lives Movement
1. Your attitude toward the plight of African-Americans in this country reflects your theology.
Sekou: If you tell me what you think about Jesus, I can tell you what you think about Ferguson. Christianity in and of itself is not simply about the redemption of the world, it's about some peasant articulating a vision of the world and the state crucified him and he rose again.
Knox: God is always committed the poor and the marginalized and those who are disconnected. God is constantly rearranging power. That's what justice is. It's about rearranging power. How are we as churches rearranging power in our own lives? We need a theology from below, not a theology from above. That means taking into consideration what minorities have to teach us about life, about economics, about power, about justice. Theology from below is taking into consideration of something you don't have control of.
2. White churches don't need to become multicultural. They need to show up.
Sekou: The job for white churches is not to increase your membership of black people. I'm actually OK if you have a predominantly white church, especially in a place like Portland. It's not about clapping on two and four -- which I wish white folks would do, one and three I just don't understand -- but what blows your church is striking against white supremacy.
What if the next time a black boy gets shot a white church shows up? They don't say a word but they go sit with that mama and ask what she needs. What if some white clergy showed up in their robes and stood between the protestors and the police, telling the police, 'You're going to have to get through us to get to these babies.'
The city councilmen are in your church. The judges are in your church. Call them up. Part of your task as white folks is to organize your crazy cousins.
3. The first step toward understanding and justice is friendship.
Hardesty: Too many white people don't know a black person well enough to sit down and talk about race. They talk about "Orange is the new Black." They talk about TV shows, but don't have real honest conversations.
Sekou: It's not simply who you pray with, but who you are willing to die for. White people go to these workshops where they learn how not to be racist. The question I ask is: Have you ever been to a black funeral? Does somebody love you enough that when they put their mama in the ground they want you standing next to them? What is your proximity to the people who are catching the most hell?
4. Your opinion of the rioters' distasteful language and behavior shouldn't shape your opinion of their message.
Sekou: Martin Luther King ain't coming back. Get over it. It won't look like the Civil Rights Movement. It's angry. It's profane. If you're more concerned about young people using profanity than about the profane conditions they live in, there's something wrong with you.
Riots, Martin Luther King says, are the language of the unheard. Even when young people are engaging in behaviors that we don't necessarily agree with, we don't demonize them.
5. Change is going to require sacrifice.
Sekou: There is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. Are you willing to put your body on the line? You're going to make mistakes. Black people are going to get mad at you. It's fine. Are you willing to risk your life for people who don't look like you?
Knox: I'm fighting for my kids and my grandkids and I'm standing on the shoulders of a grandfather who couldn't read and write. If you're in this to see wholesale change in your lifetime, get out of this room. It's not going to happen. Are you willing to fight for a world that you ain't never going to live in?