In the year of our Lord 2019, acclaimed movie director Ava Duvernay released the documentary, “When They See Us.” Duvernay very compellingly detailed the tragic events that led up to the arrest, conviction, and sentencing of five, young, black and brown men pejoratively called, The Central Park Five. The backstory was powerful and riveting, but it was also disturbing. As we now know, those young men were innocent but treated as guilty, before, and after proof. When They See Us, reminds me of the struggle that is still very real for persons of color and people who have little social, political, or financial capital in the United States.
Over the last few years “we have seen” egregious, violent acts perpetrated against people in the African American community. Our eyes will not allow us to unsee those actions and our hearts will not allow us to stand down nor stand by. We saw; therefore, we say the names of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. Though they sleep, their names we still speak. While we do not conflate the gospel with social justice, we also do not negate social justice because of the gospel. As people who name the name of Christ, God is watching us to SEE what we do for those who are less fortunate and under the heavy weight of oppression in America.
In the process of delivering a theme for Alumni 2020, it was clear that the perspective of the man with eyes of fire walking between the candlesticks in Revelation 3: 14 -18 – Jesus walking among the members of the last church – conveys the sentiment of 2020 Vision and begs the question: When they see us, what will they see? Jesus saw a very pitiful sight. A church that was naked, blind, miserable, and poor. In contrast, the church thought they were clothed, with great eyesight, in excellent condition – rich and increased with goods. Evidently, the church lacked the anointed vision to see realistically, rather than imaginatively.
There is no avoiding nor imagining the condition of our country. We are all aware of the negative impact of the Coronavirus and the subsequent issues of health and financial disparities that hang over the heads of minorities that have flared as a result of centuries of neglect and discrimination. In my opinion, it would have been irresponsible for us to not address the flagrant ills in our society. My hope is that the Alumni body would go into our communities and work the works of him who sent us, by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, setting the captive free, while proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord.
On the 114th birthday celebration of our roots that have produced strong trees, let us continue to grow in grace but not forget to be a living, active, working-witness against social injustices by S.E.R.V.I.N.G. (Spiritual, Educational, Recreational, Vocational, Invocational, Nutritional, & Governmental). When They See Us, we will be Spiritual as we pursue and sustain the growth of BCJA and GAAA in the areas: Educational, Recreational, and Vocational as we continually seek God for guidance through the Invocational, while practicing self-care through the Nutritional, never forgetting our civic duties that require us to occupy until he comes by participating in the Governmental. When They See Us, let us be about our Father’s business S.E.R.V.I.N.G., rooted in love, still producing strong trees!
Best in everything at all times,