• Adam Johnson

"Buildings, Image-Bearers, and Personal Reckoning - BLACK LIVES MATTER"

Reposted from Facebook.

Hello, fellow White people. I'll speak longer than I probably should - what's happening is not about me or my experience - so I want to direct you to the 80+ links at the end that I've read and seen, that I reference in my post, that have upset me, and that convince me that emphasizing protest pushback and throwing our hands in the air while shrugging and saying, "Love?" is not enough. So I urge you to go to the links to hear the hurt historic and current white supremacy and police brutality causes today. I know disturbing things weigh heavy, but just as we tell youth groups to get their hands dirty, we can't turn a blind eye to bad things to keep ourselves comfortable. So even if you don't read my 1200 words, look at all 80+ links.


I don't see what positive message is supposed to be received by holding up a Bible in front of St. John's Church after demanding that protestors be met with the National Guard, by governor's orders or his. Why tear gas protestors for a hollow yet chilling photo op that fetishizes a building and the Bible without saying how you'll properly honor George Floyd, properly honor black lives, properly honor God in facing the problem? The Church is not a building. Heck, my church has no permanent home - whether we can return is up to the building's owners - and the Early Church was gathered in homes. Even the Rector of St. John's said on Fox News this evening said that his church is still active online, though whomever the anchor was crafted that message into "Yes, we all want to get back to church." No, we still have church, and we can still have community because the Church is not a building.

St. John's Bishop Mariann Budde is "outraged" and that neither she nor the rector was asked or told… “that they would be clearing with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop....holding a bible, one that declares that God is love and when everything he has said and done is to enflame violence. I am beyond. We need moral leadership and he’s done everything to divide us and has just used one of the most sacred symbols of the Judeo-Christian tradition. We so disassociate ourselves from the messages of this president. We hold the teachings of our sacred texts to be so so grounding to our lives and everything we do and it is about love of neighbor and sacrificial love and justice."

In some conversations I’ve had, I've defended the riots that have happened with the protests. It has become clear, though, rioting and looting have been bad-faith actors and instigators, and I have made the sin of grouping those of Black Lives Matter with those instigators. Even in a positive light, it still creates a narrative that is wrong, and for that, I apologize to the Black community, especially to those I've heard speak out against the rioting.

However, I believe it's still wrong to focus more attention on the parts we don't like around the protests than we do why the protests are even happening. "Image-bearers [of God] are worth infinitely more than Target lamps," Kathryn Annette tweeted. If burning streets disturb us, imagine how traumatizing it is to have racism follow you every day. For all the racist pain my country has caused people of color in its history, I hope we're shaken by the injustices that still remain. You may not like the method, but I know several people who are reading this were either outraged or defensive with nearly every other method of protest in the past seven years. I know I was, and I reckon with it. Just hear the message and share the message - PLEASE. It's not my place to say how people should protest, and it's CERTAINLY not my place to tell Black people what Black leader they should try to be or emulate.

There is hurt we white folk MUST listen to. We should pray for love and peace, yes, but we should really watch what the purposes of our posts and silences are, mind every aspect of what our votes represent, and recognize how we could possibly be part of the problem. I'm still coming to terms with prejudices I don't want to have. Every year Facebook reminds me of posts I made years ago I'm not proud of, and I quickly delete them. But in 9th grade, I wore brownface for a musical - I love the memories of that show, but I am not proud of agreeing to that. But in 10th grade, I complained about having to keep learning slavery and racism is bad in English class. But I wrote a racist paper in 11th grade condemning racism and slavery but still concluding that "political correctness has snuck its way into social thinking so that the angry African-Americans who feel wronged can have opportunities undeserving of some of them because their merits do not align with what is necessary," and all oppressed people should get over it because "perhaps then could... the United States be truly united." (Oh, you damnable moron, Adam Johnson.)

It wasn't until 12th grade that I even stopped to consider why someone would say Obama is their favorite president because of what his election meant to her and Americans - but I still voted for Donald Trump, who made racist slander against Obama that I knew were racist when I heard them as a KID, long before the election, but I conveniently ignored them when they mattered most, and I'm reckoning with that in 2020. And there have been other moments, too, in the years since that I regret. I just got better about saying sorry. I’m grateful for those who’ve put me in my place and been merciful in correction.

I AM THE PROBLEM - in so many ways. I’m also a hypocrite. I don’t help the poor as I should; I don’t always give to the needy; and I pay lipservice to the oppressed - even though I say I believe helping the poor, giving to the needy, and upholding justice to the oppressed is Scripture I believe in. I hope I am getting better and I am working to be anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-queerphobia, anti-bully, not because that's obviously where the right side of history is, not because that's what Jesus would do AND DID, but because it's all just the right thing to do. I like to consider myself a good person, but it's clear I haven't been in so many ways.

It's more than "love" - we can find many outs to actually practicing that, trust me - it's more than praying for peace; it's more than white-washed MLK quotes that don't put the onus on us; it's being the change ourselves in every facet and calling out hate - conscious or otherwise - in our homes, our families, our friend circles, our conversations, our schools, our institutions, our workplaces, and our churches. I'm thankful for those who have already done that to me.

Many of you know I have friends and family who are police officers. I believe and know they are good cops, and I hope they know that. I don't fear for their lives because they are in positions which are safe. But I've seen captured on video actions by officers all over the country that are inexplicable - not just the Black lives they've killed, but the people they ram into with their vehicles; the protestor WATER supplies they've destroyed; the Black couple they targeted, attacked, dragged out of their car, and arrested for apparently being out past curfew - but not the White car ahead of them or the people on the sidewalks.; for arresting a young Black man, with every protestor around him supporting him and laying hands on him, for no reason other than he was making a plea to the army of police yards away from him; for needless brutality and instigation at peaceful protests; and so much more. I know the police I know and love would not participate as such, but it's obvious there's a cultural problem beyond individuals. I'm proud of the ones that have spoken up clearly and explicitly.

Black lives matter. Image-bearers are worth more than buildings and property. It's been more than George Floyd. White folks, we need to get better at fighting racism instead of pretending the next person caught, or that Derek Chauvin's arrest, is the end of the problem. I love the pictures of unity, and I wish there weren't flames. But I urge you to click the 85 links and see the fire.

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