The painful and disturbing images of the senseless and shocking murder of George Floyd caused the embers of frustration and anger that have glowed for decades, or even centuries, to burst into flame and spread across our country and around the world. Protests against the police brutality that resulted in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Dreasjon Reed, and countless others have only served to reinforce the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
At the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, our work has long been rooted in the shared belief that every individual of every race and religion is worthy of the highest regard and is to be afforded full dignity. So we stand in solidarity with those who are protesting, mourning the loss of stolen lives, and who are calling for change to how policing systems operate in the United States. We also condemn the ineffective, unequivocally immoral, and often brutal behavior of the police that has taken place in many of the cities where the protests have gone on.
These deaths and the respondent protests have opened our eyes to the need for deep and far-reaching change in the policing and justice systems, and we further acknowledge the accompanying symptoms of the systemic disease of racial inequality that must also be addressed: poor health care, lack of affordable housing, job salary inequity, educational disparity, lack of access to healthy food, and many others. The injustices that have kept our Black Siblings beaten down and oppressed have existed for centuries and have simply and subtly evolved through institutions: from blatant slavery to reconstruction to Jim Crow to our current “Law and Order” mass incarceration system.
When the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared, there will be need for a long-term commitment to greater awareness and deeper understanding. David Shaheed, as Chair of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, offered this reflection, “As we each ponder our role, if any, in this racial justice debate, it serves us to remember the faith leaders of our tortured American past, i.e. those who were labeled and ostracized as abolitionists; those who served as conductors on the underground railroad; those who marched with Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and others who went into the South to register black voters after his legislative successes. Now, as then, the question remains, What will our faith lead us to do?”
Listen — “It’s not the job of people who’ve suffered generational injustice to sit and listen to us. No, we’ve got to position ourselves to sit and listen to them.” (Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove)
Black Lives Matter, and Black Voices Also Matter
Contemplate — “How good it is to center down! To sit quietly and see one’s self pass by! and the resting lull. and bring meaning in our chaos.” (Howard Thurman)
Your Honest Self-Awareness Matters
Vote — “I can say without the slightest hesitation and yet in all humility that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
Your Voice in the Public Arena Matters
Collaborate — “Yes, religion has to do with God and the Ultimate … but it also has to do with confronting, specifying, and then repairing what is wrong in the way human beings live their lives together in this world.” (Paul Knitter)
Our Life and Work Together Matters
As we honor Juneteenth, this day on which the ending of slavery is commemorated, we humbly and emphatically acknowledge that our society has fallen short in the work of emancipation; the struggle for justice and equality is not over. We call upon people of all faiths and races to come together, to dialogue, to strive to understand, and to live with a newfound empathy and compassion as together we seek for solutions and societal transformation. For the stark reality of the moment is this: Our Work Has Just Begun.
* If you are unfamiliar with these terms or concepts, we encourage you to take the time to educate yourself. You can start here: (downloadable pdf of resources including articles specific to Indianapolis) (ways to further your understanding of power, privilege, supremacy, oppression, and equity) (Emmanuel Acho helps white people understand the current situation.)
Juneteenth 2020 Statement
Our Work Has Just Begun