The Center for Reconciliation celebrates the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd in all their fullness, beauty, and complexity, along with all those murdered by white supremacy. We deeply grieve their loss, and we deeply grieve the insidious persistence of racism and racial violence throughout the fabric of American law, culture, and society. We cannot bring them back from the dead and restore them to their families and friends, but we can raise our voices.
With this in mind, we call for a lived, present-day commitment to full equality, justice, and love for everyone, including advocacy for the passage and implementation of anti-racist policies and laws. With full equality, justice, and love, we believe, will come true reconciliation of the human family. To create that world, we must peacefully transform this one, and we stand proudly and immovably alongside all those working to do so.
Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd deserve to be honored and mourned as the unique and utterly irreplaceable individuals they were. Their deaths, however, fit into a much greater and deeply disturbing pattern—the pattern, created by the foundational American institution of race-based chattel slavery, of treating Black lives and Black bodies as criminal, disposable, and outside of the human family.
We also feel compelled to address and condemn what occurred in an Audubon-protected area in New York’s Central Park this past week. Two unrelated people—a black man, Christian Cooper, and Amy Cooper, a white woman—were involved. Thankfully their interactions did not result in anyone’s direct involvement with law enforcement, or worse, with anyone’s death. However, the words and actions of Ms. Cooper of (1) telling Mr. Cooper she was going to call the police on him and (2) actually calling the police and falsely claiming that he threatened her, speaks volumes to an implicit belief or manifestation of her “white privilege.”
Our country has witnessed too many reports of Black men being falsely accused of committing crimes by white people of all genders for a host of unknown reasons. Yet to blame the race and gender of the true victims, Black men, is rooted in a mindset that accepts a fictional narrative of a predisposition to commit crimes.
Some may find comfort in viewing America as propelled by a quest for freedom for all, from the early days of religious liberty and onward through the realization of societal, political and economic freedoms. Yet, as history demonstrates, this discourse has existed throughout the centuries alongside brutal forms of repression, inequity and social dominance rooted in racism.
This pattern has continually taken on new legal and extralegal forms, including lynching, the laws of the Jim Crow era, de jure and de facto segregation, and our current crises of mass incarceration of and police brutality against people of color. While the tireless, dangerous, and often unacknowledged work of countless brave individuals has led to progress from both a process and a policy perspective, our country’s failure to honestly address and have a results-driven conversation about racism and racial violence continues to disrupt our realization of a more just and free society.
We call for a profound recognition of the history and many legacies of race-based slavery—including these deaths—by everyone. Racially motivated, systemic, and institutional murder and brutality cannot be tolerated, and must be acknowledged and confronted…now.
The Center for Reconciliation Board and Staff
Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely, chair
Iman Farid Ansari
The Rev. Dr. David A. Ames, vice chair pro tem
The Rev. Patrick Campbell
Edward C. Clifton, Associate Justice (Ret.)
James DeWolf Perry
The Rev. Nathan Humphrey
Ferdinand Jones, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Brown University
Rabbi Sarah E. Mack
Robert P. Naparstek, MD, FACOEM
Joe Wilson, Jr.
Debra Sharpe, Executive Director
Julia Renaud, Exhibition Manager & Curator
Posted online here.