Auburn Seminary: Need to talk about race, Eric Garner & the growing national outcry? Check out these resources

It's Thursday. I can imagine that many of you are gathering your thoughts, knowing that your community members and the media look to you for guidance to help them understand and respond to the growing outcry all across this nation in the face of yesterday's news that there will be no indictment of the police officer who killed Eric Garner.


Eric Garner with his family

Below are quotes and recent resources that have been helpful to me. Please click and share widely! 

From the Rev. Jeff Hood, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX:

I don't believe you can love your neighbor as yourself and then kill them.


From T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights:

All lives matter. That's the first message the Torah gives us about human beings.

"One who sheds blood is regarded as though he had diminished the image of God." - Midrash Genesis Rabbah 34:14

"One who destroys a single soul is considered as having destroyed an entire world." - Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5


From the Rev. Dr. Leslie Callahan, St. Paul's Baptist Church, Philadelphia:

To bear faithful witness to the transformative and saving power of Jesus Christ requires all of speak about and to speak to the violence of this world.


From the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church, NYC

If you want to commit to a conversation with your family, friends, or faith community, make space for deep questions and even the sharing of awkward sentiments. Here are some questions to use:

  • Why is this happening?
  • Aren't we past race yet, and can I do anything about this?
  • What images in our culture reinforce racism?
  • How does my faith in God relate to these issues?
  • How can I heal from my own racism?   * * *

From Linda Sarsour, Arab-American Association, NYC:

At least a quarter of our community is African-American Muslims.  

These people have to deal with issues that black communities already have to deal with, plus the additional layer of anti-Muslim hate preventing them from doing things like going to mosque and dressing traditionally...  What I took away from Ferguson was that it's OK to be angry.  That anger is not something we should be ashamed of when we are each working against injustice.  Injustice is supposed to make us angry. And that anger can be productive and translated into systemic change.  I was proud to be angry, which is something we're told not to be-angry Arab women or angry black women. But in Ferguson it felt good to be angry, and we were angry alongside people around us who also showed you love. It was something I never felt before in my life.


From Rabbi Jay Michaelson, author, educator, legal scholar, NYC:

I want to focus on law, because it's something we can do something about. 

Right after the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai,... the Bible famously goes into a thousand tiny details of mishpatim, laws. By detailing everything from rules of evidence to the damages for a stolen lamb, the book of Exodus makes a strong claim: that  the lofty moral imperatives of Sinai only have meaning if they are translated into just laws.  The God is in the details.


From the Rev. John Vaughn, Auburn Seminary, NYC:

In my Christian faith tradition, fear does not have the last word. God's unconditional love does. 

In a moment when the death of unarmed Black men at the hands of police is once again publicly affirmed as "acceptable" collateral damage and the desire to return "an eye for an eye" is the first and overriding impulse for many of my friends and colleagues, my prayer is that law enforcement will not let fear win... Faith leaders who espouse inclusiveness and interdependence have too often abandoned our role to be the moral voices and guides.  We need to speak and act even if it feels like no one is listening.


I hope these resources are helpful to you. Please send me additional resources that you think might help the thousands of leaders of faith and moral courage who have worked hard to speak prophetically and pastorally through Auburn Media training and I will do my best to share them on Twitter at @MackyAlston.

Imagine what's possible if we all speak into this moment the truth that is in our hearts.

Let's do it,

Macky Alston

Vice President for Strategy, Engagement and Media

Auburn Seminary

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