Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! — Genesis 4:10
For days now, I’ve heard the same cry God is hearing. The blood of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and Jai Williams crying out from the ground. And then the blood of Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa crying out from the ground. Deaths as senseless as the death of Abel at the hands of Cain. In between that first senseless death and the latest ones we will read about in the morning papers are scores of people devalued by the world around them. Devaluing occurs for many reasons— gender, education, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, race— and none of them are valid, but the woe confronting us in these days is race. Crime suspects shot because they were black, and then police officers shot because they were white. We all have a race problem.
The NC Council of Churches was founded in 1935 because there was a race problem in this state. In the decades since, the Council has faithfully called for accountability in race relations. In the wake of events this past week, we are once again planning a response that can help all of us confront the race virus infecting our society. We intend to create a space where strong personalities on different sides of the issue can be heard at the same time. When we only talk to those who already agree with us, we have no reason to consider other ideas. When we fail to listen to those who can tell a different story, we only know our own story. It’s time to unmask the powers that hold us hostage and begin moving together toward a future that values us all.
We imagine a “town hall” kickoff event early in 2017 followed by a series of “listening” events across the state throughout the spring. In the meantime, we will continue to engage the issue of race through our writing, our programming, and our prayers. We invite you to do the same, because as Cain already knew when he posed the question, “Am I my brother’s [sic] keeper?” Yes, we are.