I am fifteen years old and have decided to run track. I’m no good but figured I should give it a shot anyway. I get up one Sunday morning before church for a run in Dover, NJ. After a two mile or so run I am about 5 blocks away from my home and I stop at a red light to check for traffic. A red car barrels up the street and screeches to a halt, “You are going to be the next Atlanta murder, victim nigger!!” is screamed at me by a car load of 5 white men. One of them starts to get out of the car and I start running for my life. The car’s tire burns rubber and the smell of that tire hits my nose and I am more scared for my life now then ever. Behind me as the car speeds up I hear the men in the car laughing hysterically. I jump over a fence and cut through a parking lot to lose them and run so fast…As I am running an image comes into my head that I just can’t get rid of–I see image of my mother and brother with their throats slit. I cry and run, my body on automatic pilot because I can’t see a thing. I run up the stairs 3, 4 at a time to see my mom sleeping peacefully, and my brother sleeping like an angel. I tiptoe to the farthest reaches of the kitchen and cry for 40 minutes.
You see this is the time when no one knew how or why little black boys and black teenagers were disappearing and turning up dead in Atlanta, GA. Those five white men in that car have no idea how much they scarred me that day. And even if they were to ever apologize, I’m sure they would say, “It was just a joke.” You see they had the privilege to joke about things like that. That was their reality.
One person’s idea of reality can be so hurtful and damaging to another. And I must say, Mr. Beck, listening to your take on Liberation/Black/Theology (I lump them together because you did) I felt sucker punched. You have single handedly given millions of people permission to hate and distrust Black me simply because you seem to enjoy wanting the world to live in your reality.
I feel very much like that scared fifteen year old again. I can’t get the image out of my head of vitriolic hate speeches coming my way again. I can’t get the image out of my head of people in the name of democracy stepping on others dreams just to get ahead. And yes, Mr. Beck, it is this serious to me, I can’t get the image of dead black bodies turning up in swamps and city alleys out of my head. You give permission for hate, Mr. Beck. And whether or not you know it, I am the one who suffers for it. Me, this Black man, this African American, this Same Gender Loving human being who, as tired as I am, must keep fighting for survival because with each word you speak you unleash the hounds of hatred–against me.
I applaud my fellow seminarians and seminary President, Serene Jones for responding to your diatribe of intentional misinformation regarding Liberation/Black/Theology. I couldn’t watch more than ten minutes before my eyes streamed with tears for what you are doing to this country.
Please do come to Union, Mr. Beck. At least then you will have at least three years to try to digest the information we study, the Bible we try to live, the love we try to spew. If your staff can digest Black Theology in one day with the help of one person then you all deserve a theological scholarship to Union.
By the way, let’s clear up a couple of things. Mr. Beck, the Good Samaritan is a parable…Jesus’ teaching tool. Stick to Jesus’ script if you are going to use it and don’t add your take. It’s stood this long without your take on highway maintenance in the Roman world. The other thing, while we’re on the Romans. Be careful the way you spit out how the Jews killed Jesus and he would have come back to get ‘em. That’s the way you think, don’t put that on Jesus. And the last time I looked, it was the Romans that stripped Jesus, beat him, nailed him to the cross and pierced him in the side! No Jewish person had that much power under Caesar.
And one last thing, while my stomach is still in knots, while I still fear for the safety of those I call my own, and while I know that your work hurts me more than you will ever know…this one thing I can say:
I have nothing but the love of Jesus Christ for you and hope the Holy Spirit will crack your heart wide open so that you see the simplest words of social justice that Jesus ever spoke, ‘Love God, Love your neighbor as yourself’. If you can do this one thing for Christ, Mr. Beck, then you will see that everyone deserves to live in the bounty of God’s creation.