In the Era of Ahmaud, What Does Solidarity Have to do with Jesus?!
A poof of blood dissipating into the air is all we saw.
Ahmaud’s struggle against the white man and his shotgun took them outside our view in the graphic video circulating the world. We hear the shotgun blast, but all we can see on screen is the poof of bloody air as bullets pass through his chest at point blank range.
Executed. Assassinated. Lynched.
If any murders such as this one were young white men, there would be such a national outcry, and our nation would come to a screeching halt. State capitals would be stormed, entire cities shut down.
The reality is, centuries and generations of witnessing Black flesh disemboweled in our streets has socialized our conscience to accept it as normal. It seems for many, something in our brains shuts off when we see that it is Black flesh. That “something” is the most basic essence of humanity which screams bloody hell when a fellow image-bearer is brutalized.
That “something” started on the ships and bled into enslavement and then lynching. It held fast through Jim Crow and Civil Rights, at which point it morphed into mass incarceration, elected a proudly racist President, and graduated into the mass graves of COVID-19.
“Racism never goes away, it just adapts.” – Jemar Tisby
Christ-followers should be at the forefront of demanding change, particularly white Christ-followers. The Jesus you claim to follow is a brown, colonized, marginalized activist who was murdered by the state.
When I see the body of our brother Ahmaud crumple to the pavement in a hail of gunfire, I see the Black skin and beautiful souls of my own sons. When I see white men laying in wait to unleash their bullets on innocent Black flesh, I see my childhood bonus dad being butchered in the street. When I see the wide-eyed young man with his whole life ahead of him fighting for his life, I see the brother who supported me through the darkest season of my life.
Who do you see?
Our proximity to this chronic savagery will determine whether we give the skin off our backs to see change happen, or whether we give a rip at all.
We turn our heads away because it’s not “our” son. We focus our energies elsewhere because it’s not “our” dad. Our face contorts for a moment with the graphic video yet we keep on scrolling. We assume there is a logical explanation for these habitual executions that doesn’t involve systemic white supremacy embedded in the land where we are safe and free.
When Jesus spoke of the Good Samaritan and the injured man near death, he was referring to folks like Ahmaud, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Philando Castille, and Atatiana Jefferson who were all innocent and unarmed.
Who’s in your newsfeed? Who was in your bridal party? Who were your roommates and your pastors and your Bible study buddies? If they all share your lighter-hued skin tone, then you are likely to pass by just like the Priest and Levite did. Unless it is someone you know and love and trust who is gunned down, or who is related to the one who was gunned down, or who is weeping and vomiting in your living room from the chronic and complex trauma of being Black in this country, you are likely to pass by.
Until we can all see the trauma of the Black community as our own, change will be minimal, slow, and at grave cost. Our lack of solidarity and action has forced this community to chronically fight alone for its own dignity, despite our very Savior having come as the solidarity of our God who refused to make us all fight for our own.
He came. He showed up at great cost to himself. He made our needs his own.
To continue to pacify ourselves with the comforts of our untouched privilege is to hold in our blood-soaked hands a false, self-insulating, human-constructed, demonized gospel; one which crucifies Jesus all over again with every moment of averting of our scale-covered eyes.
The solidarity that drives us to action on behalf of the marginalized is actually solidarity with the very Savior we claim to follow—the one who declared from Isaiah 61 that God anointed him to bring good news to the afflicted, to bring liberty to captives, freedom to prisoners, and declared them the planting of the Lord!
Solidarity is to realize that Jesus didn’t only come for them, but he took it a step further and came as one of them.
To sacrificially fight for the marginalized is to love God. To listen and bear witness to the suffering is to love God. To demand change as though it was our dad, our brother, our son, is to love God.
The trauma of one must become the trauma of all, because only when there is freedom for the one will there be freedom for us all.
Article first published in Red Letter Christians on May 17, 2020
Artwork source: Brooklyfriends.org