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Response of the Amos 5:24 Ministry Team & the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus to Charlottesville

We tell ourselves the pictures cannot be of today’s America, but they are.

We tell ourselves we have overcome, but we haven’t.

We tell ourselves we are all God’s children, but there are those whose image of what God is has made them blind to see the blessings of God in each and everyone one of us.

The shame of Charlottesville, Virginia, isn’t new to many of us in America. It’s one that has so long been ignored and swept under the rug, because the majority of America believes we have surpassed the hatred, the blindness, the arrogance, the sin. But it still lives, and, in some, it has boiled within itself until a new opportunity has arisen. For when we forget the past, we can easily fall into the trap that may recreate itself - if we are not careful – if we are lulled into a sense of security – if we let our guard down. And we, as Americans, have let our guards down.

We all want to believe and pray, the majority of America wants to stand for what is just and true, and “indignity to one is indignity to all”. That the rights of all humankind should never be denied. That “injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere”. But a blind eye is all that is needed for evil to flourish. So while we lay embraced in comfort among peers who maintain such a thing will never again be true of America, others have realized the myth in practice. Today’s technology has only allowed to surface what too many have experienced and known in everyday life, spoken around dinner tables, in local shops and sometimes in churches. By being silent, blind and in denial we have allowed the roots of injustice and racism to grow, by being silent, blind and in denial we have accomplished what Edmund Burke warned, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

So it is time to wake up, speak up, open our eyes and do what is right. As with all situations of this type, the first thing is to admit We have a problem. That is “We” as in America. And the “We” is made of individual “I”s. Therefore, we must individually take ownership of this. It is not “Their” problem, but “Our” problem and “My” problem.

This brokenness is fixable. That’s the good news.  And it can start today. Yes, there are books, but do your research, seek out personal and professional assistance. Racism is a solid wall that needs to be dismantled stone by stone. You must start with identifying it and seeing how it is fortified. Within the Pittsburgh Presbytery the Amos 5:24 Ministry team stands ready to have those one-on-one talks. The Anti-Racism Transformational Team (ARTT) has training to help churches take a look at the inner structure of the church body and lift them up. Members of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus also stand ready to help along this spiritual journey.

Talk with people who are different from yourselves and actually listen – really listen – four or five times listen. Listening is a skill and a talent, not just hearing sounds but taking to heart the words, the emotion, the passion being expressed. There are opportunities for change, but they MUST start from within. No change from this illness can happen without your desire to make it change within yourself. There are helping, loving hands available, stretched out, waiting in love to share, to heal, to work towards being one Family.

Lenore Williams
Amos 5:24 Ministry Team, Chairperson
Pittsburgh Chapter of National Black Presbyterian Caucus, Moderator