Minute on Racial Justice
Approved by BHFM June 7, 2015
As a religious society, Quakers have stood for centuries against a violent hunger that threatens to overpower our world. Economic injustice, global climate change, and disparities in health, housing, and employment harm the poor in particular, and impact all of us. Our common future is in danger.
In addition to all of these challenges, the lives of Black and Brown people are at risk from another cause: lethal violence perpetrated by law enforcement.
Every violent death is a tragedy. To intentionally harm one another is the opposite of God’s plan for us. There is no sequence of events leading up to an act of lethal violence, and no “truth” about either the perpetrator or the victim, that diminishes the sorrow or the horror of this outcome. The damage to every person involved is profound, rippling out into our communities and our world family.
Our nation’s racial history, and its current structures of power and privilege, are the sources of strong messages about who is dangerous and what deserves protection. Every case may be different, and every person involved may be trying their hardest to do right, without changing this fact. It is by naming the racism that we begin to refuse to be its servants any longer.
When police officers use lethal force against unarmed people of color, we see that this is adding to a pattern of racist violence — regardless of the intentions, beliefs, or racial identity of the officers. When our justice system is, in turn, unable to hold police officers accountable for the slaying of unarmed people of color, this too is part of the pattern of racism — regardless of the legalities of each case or the intentions, beliefs, or racial identity of authorities and jurors.
We pray for the courage and compassion to transform the pattern wherever we see it: in our streets — in our Quaker meeting —and in our inmost hearts. We recommit ourselves to help each other be publishers of truth and good friends to all.