Broderick Greer, a senior at Virginia Theological Seminary, recently delivered an address at the College of William and Mary entitled “No Reconciliation Without Reparations.” In the wake of many highly publicized shootings and the “Black Lives Matter” movement, Greer writes:
To say, “Black lives matter”, then, is more than a rallying cry. It is a theological claim, a God claim, a deeply faithful claim. It is saying that Jesus is present in, with, and through the suffering bodies of our own day and that the wounds of crucifixion are the wounds of Walter Scott and Michael Brown. Therefore, to dismiss or ignore the people lynched by police terrorism and brutality is to ignore the broken and fragile body of Jesus Christ. To say “black lives matter” is to resist the insidious temptation of white supremacy, the temptation to minimize and trivialize black suffering or any suffering not endured by white people. It is bringing into stark relief the difficult reality of terrorism inflicted on black bodies on this continent since 1619, six and a half miles from where we stand in this very moment.
Now, a word about “racial reconciliation”. It has a nice rhetorical ring to it, doesn’t it? And my friends, I am happy to read and engage the buzz around this phrase. But first, we must be willing to do the hard work of defining reconciliation, banned its use, dispel the myth that this work of reconciliation is a “two way street”, and remind people that reconciliation can’t take place when a part of the populace is being systematically erased by white supremacist law en- forcement, modern day slave patrols.
Therefore, I would caution you, like I must caution myself, that reconciliation does not come without reparations. And, you can’t reconcile something that was never conciliatory. I repeat: Reconciliation does not come without reparations and you can’t reconcile something that was never conciliatory. Now, it would be nice to go on and on about the utopia we so desperately want, but you can leave that for the birds.
At the center of the season of Easter – which is being celebrated for the next forty-three days in Episcopal, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic Churches – is the resurrected body of Jesus. It is God mending and healing the breeches of human history. It is God making possible what had before been impossible. It is black people, white people, Indigenous people, Latino/as, Asian people, and everybody else taking to the streets of our cities, towns, and villages to make the radical claim that black lives matter. And as we march on the streets, tweet on our phones, confront apathetic legislative bodies, awaken campus communities, and continue bringing the value of black life to the public square, we are practicing resurrection…
We are imperiled if we cannot recognize the cross of Jesus for what it is: an instrument of torture transformed into an instrument of love; a sword made into plowshares; a spear made a pruning hook. And as you know, this transformation does not occur overnight. It is the slow, vulnerable work of ordinary people, animated by the wild, dancing, contagious, spontaneous Spirit of Liberation. And the difficult, arduous task is ours – white, black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian – to muster the strength to realize we are already Dr. King’s Beloved Community. That law enforcement terrorism ends when we take guns out of the hands of xenophobic police. That another world – where love reigns – is possible.
Posted by Weston Matthews