While viewing the protests in Louisville, Kentucky; Denver; Washington, D.C.; and New York after the announcement of the Kentucky grand jury decision not to charge the three officers involved in the tragic shooting of Breonna Taylor, it's hard to find the words to describe the anguish, anger and pain that is once again gripping the nation. Taylor was only 26 years old. She worked as an emergency room technician for University of Louisville Health and had plans to become a nurse. Her life was cut short during a late night in March when police carried out a narcotics warrant and raided her apartment while she was asleep with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. On social media, it has been lamented that "a wall got justice" instead of Taylor, referring to former Louisville detective Brett Hankison's indictment on first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly shooting into Taylor's apartment and putting her neighbors in harm's way. After the grand jury's decision hit the news, the repulsive spirit of violence once again virulently crept into the protests when two Louisville police officers were shot. Emotions were roiling as people confronted police who were in riot gear. In seriously thinking about the critical juncture we have come to in 2020 with race relations severely strained and on edge, I believe many now feel the weight of this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: "There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life's July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November." Right now, with the images of ongoing unrest constantly before us, better race relations appear "alpine," like a high and distant mountain that seems impossible to climb. Tragic cases like Taylor's and the death of George Floyd are seminal moments that will no longer allow us to wallow in complacency.
CBS sportscaster James Brown referred to Floyd's death as a seminal moment in an August podcast hosted by Sports Spectrum's Jason Romano. Sports Spectrum features athletes and sports professionals who are Christians, and in Brown's interview, he was asked about his perspective on current social justice activism. Brown mentioned that he grew up witnessing the protests during the civil rights movement and recalled the 1968 riots in Washington, D.C., leaving a lasting impression on him as a teenager. Brown said that we have made great progress in our country, but much has remained the same, which is evident from the present racial strife. He then made a bold statement: "At the end of the day, the Word of God is the answer." Brown shared that he believed if Jesus were walking among us today, the Lord would mourn with those who are grieved by the effects of racism. I, of course, agree with Brown, and an inspiring message that my pastor gave in a recent Bible study session delves a little deeper into Brown's points about the compassion of Christ. My pastor called this an "even now miracle." Her text of reference was the 11th chapter of John that tells the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. While this story does not deal with a racial injustice Lazarus suffered, the main point my pastor was making centered around the response of Lazarus' sister Martha to Jesus when He arrived four days after Lazarus had been placed in the grave. Although she was still grieved in her soul, Martha said to Jesus, "even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." As I was reflecting on Brown's remarks and his call for Christians to lead the way in the fight against racial injustice, I kept thinking that we need an "even now miracle." Even now, though we have lost precious lives in Taylor, Floyd and many others that include Tamir Rice, Botham Jean, Bettie Jones, and Philando Castile, we can intervene with the power of God to bring love and unity where bigotry and hatred want to keep us ensnared. Brown stated that nothing is going to change "until our hearts change." Changed hearts will get us over that alpine distance of race that continues to divide us.
Dr. Jessica A. Johnson is a lecturer in the English department at Ohio State University's Lima campus. Email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @JjSmojc. To find out more about Jessica Johnson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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