We’ve passed the 100,000 mark for the people in our country who have died from the COVID-19 virus. Here in Michigan, as of today 5,590 people have perished.
More than 40 million people have filed for unemployment in the last three months in the US, with more than 1.4 million in our state of Michigan. Unemployment, while crossing all income levels, is hitting those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder the hardest – rungs which are disproportionately filled by black and brown people. Those most likely to be doing essential work, most likely to be unable to stay home and try to hide from the virus, are also those most likely to contract and then die from it. About 14% of Michiganders are African American, but about 40% of the people dying in our state from COVID-19 are people of color.
And last week, as you all know, was marked the death of yet another person of color – an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, killed by Minneapolis police officers. A death, were it not for videos filmed through the cell phones of anguished bystanders, that we might never have known about. Deaths like Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and a death like Damon Grimes here in Detroit in 2017, who was riding an ATV, tasered by police, and then killed upon crashing into a parked car.
Our country is facing a chasm of despair. In the midst of that, people are rising up, protesting, and risking their lives to demand justice and to change the course of our futures.
This, then, is why we are here – to confront again the sin of racism, the sin of white supremacy, aided and abetted by white privilege, so we come together to discern how we can address these sins.
As Sister Veronica Mary has so eloquently said, “We are coming together first and foremost as people of faith. Not as people of color, not as people who aren’t identified as people of color, but as followers of Jesus who gave us a new commandment to love one another. You cannot say that you love me if you accept my oppression; I cannot say that I love you if I leave you enslaved to an ideology that alienates you from your own humanity.”
I invite you all to join me in a series of conversations called Race Matters, where we will take an honest look at the reality of the violent and systematic racism in our country, and discuss plans, opportunities and direct actions we can take as Christians in our communities.
At our first meeting, we listened and brainstormed.
This coming meeting, we will determine what areas we will be working in. In following meetings, we will divide into groups and decide what actions we will take, and we will begin the steps that will take us to fairness, equity and God’s Holy reign.
RACE MATTERS: A Diocesan-Wide Zoom Series:
Wednesday June 10 8:00PM
Wednesday June 17 8:00PM
Wednesday June 24 8:00PM
Find links and more resources at www.edomi.org/racematters
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan