By Rev. Carey G. Anderson, D. Min.
The tea from the voice of our millennial and Z generations are saying, America must come to grips and realize its inherent racism. As an African American Pastor in Seattle, WA, with over forty five years in the ministry, I stand in agreement with them. Racism, I believe, is something that has been woven into the moral fabric of the founding of our nation. America’s racism goes beyond the legal and law enforcement community having a few bad apples that have fallen from America’s tree while whistling in the wind to the tune, “land of the free and home of the brave.” America must understand that the whole orchard is infested with the rotten apples of racism, and therefore must be treated for disease.
Like COVID-19, racism is a pandemic. It is a pandemic of epic proportions towards Black men and black women. This pandemic did not just start with our three most recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Nor did it just start with the killing of Trayvon Martin February 26, 2012, and to those who followed. It did not even just start with the brutal killing of Emmitt Till in 1955.
This pandemic started when African Kings and Queens were taken from the gold coast homeland of West Africa. It started when blacks were stolen away and packed like sardines in slave ships during the transatlantic voyage to America. It started when the first group of Africans arrived in the Americas in 1619. This pandemic was already inherent and embedded with the signing of the Declaration of Independence August 2, 1776 and had finished buffering with the writing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787,
Racism was apparent with the savage police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, in broad daylight with cameras rolling from innocent bystanders. I, and other Americans watched this brutality in horror on our televisions and mobile devices.
Afterwards, our President made no public statement of condolence or sympathy to the family of George Floyd. No press conference was held about the brutality that black men have suffered and endured at the hands of white men because of the color of their skin. No special union address to the citizens of the United States was given to speak out about the reality of racism and racial injustice. Instead, we saw the Attorney General order the removal of peaceful demonstrators dispersed out of a nearby park in Washington D.C. with flash grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas so that the President could take a photo op in front of St. John’s Church holding a Bible up in his hand.
No wonder why America’s young adults and older Americans across the country are marching, protesting, and chanting “Enough is Enough” and “Black lives Matter!” The communal sentiment across America is that police departments should be dismantled or at the very least defunded. The new narrative norm is that police departments should not be equipped with militarized weaponry and that funding should be reallocated from police budgets to social programs that offer community enrichment and support.
I contend that a deeper conversation on race needs to be held. As we approach another anniversary of the Charleston Nine, who died at Mother Emanuel AME Church, while at Bible Study on June 17, 2015, forgiveness was the cry then. Today, I hear the wailing of a new cry.
The cry today is that there be a shift to justice and that there is to be equity in justice. Simply put, society must promote fairness and justice where everyone starts from the same place. When the droplets of equity are prevalent, our society will see the element of that fairness. Black lives will then matter. George Floyd would not have been killed by having a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Philando Castile would not have died on a routine traffic stop. Ahmaud Arbery would not have been gunned down while jogging in his own neighborhood; and lest we forget, Trayvon Martin would not have been murdered coming home from the local market to buy an Arizona Iced Tea and skittles.
Our marches and protests must continue until there is a shift to justice and that the playing field be leveled so that there is equity in justice.
Pastor Carey G. Anderson is the Senior Minister of First AME Church in Seattle and is the oldest black church in the State of Washington. He serves on numerous community boards and the church operates several non-profit organizations that addresses social needs.