News and Views

Clear, prophetic voices now needed

Posted by Anthony Hunt on

By Rev. C. Anthony Hunt

About this week, first, I believe we all need to be in prayer for the families of those police officers who lost their lives and were shot in Dallas last night.

Of course, Blue Lives Matter, as all lives, but what has gotten us to the place where we are as a nation, going back to before the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012 is whether – based on ongoing instances of police brutality against Black people and an unwillingness/inability of the nation’s criminal justice system – in a number of cases – to hold anybody accountable for such police brutality – we as a nation really believe that Black Lives Matter.

This is not a matter of either/or, but yes/and.

In light of this, I see the protests and outrage following the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile earlier this week as being justified.

I agree with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said that riots are the language of the unheard. The people involved in peaceful protest across the nation are choosing to act out and speak out on some things that have been brought to light this week because of video, but that happen every day (police brutality) in communities across the nation.

On average, three people have died at the hands of police every day since Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo. in August 2014.

Most of these deaths are never brought to light in national media, but the people who are affected know that they have occurred and they are hurting because of the lack of justice in too many of these cases, and a sense that Black people are being dehumanized. These are sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers – as were Sterling and Castile. They have names as did Sterling and Castile.

As for the action that must follow the protest and the outrage, this is a matter of sustained, concerted commitment, and most importantly a matter of leadership. Leaders, whoever they are, must get beyond institutional and political posturing and (in the case of church leadership) denominational turf and maintenance insularity and fear, and move into risk-taking witness and leadership that moves people into action that starts to make demands on systems to change.

The time has come for religious leaders (from all denominations and religions persuasions – from the left, right and middle) and espoused community activists/leaders and politicians everywhere in the nation to speak with clear prophetic voices about the nation’s (church and society’s) divine imperative, moral prerogative and plan to move above and beyond the moral muck and mire in which we now find ourselves.

The Rev. C. Anthony Hunt is pastor of Epworth Chapel UMC in Baltimore.