“I can’t breathe” were the dying words of a black man named George Floyd, as a police officer kept a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, choking the life out of him, while he lay handcuffed on the ground.
Beginning this Sunday, I invite you to engage in the WPC 10 Days of Learning/Action Challenge. For African Americans and for many people of color in this country, the struggle to breathe is a daily one. Our goal is to grow in our understanding of their lived experience. We hope/intend that through our learning – by reading, listening, watching – about the injustices suffered, that we will be moved to dismantle the racism and white supremacy that is so pervasive in our nation.
In this pivotal moment, we must be courageous in doing what God requires of us. Reflecting on that wonderful text from the prophet Micah, the Jewish Talmud states, “Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
Wherever you are in your journey of faith and faithfulness, whether you are new to this conversation or have been learning about racism for some time, we invite you to continue the work now. Do not abandon it. We know that these steps we are taking, while important, are not enough. Yet, this is a start.
Let us turn our learning into faithful action for a just and equitable society, helping to create the beloved community of Jesus Christ, that we all might breathe easier together.
In Christ’s peace,
Paul E. Gilmore
[I am grateful to our friends at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, and to the Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC, for the inspiration for this challenge and for help with the resource list. Special thanks to the Rev. Rodger Nishioka, the Rev. Joe Clifford, and the Rev. John Magnuson.]