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I've fueled the flames - by Corinne Tucker

In this time of loss and lament, the Northside Church family is offering poems, devotionals, Scripture, and personal reflections to challenge and encourage the body of Christ. We are grateful for each contributor's willingness to share, amid heavy-hearts and deep grief.  May our humble, imperfect, and vulnerable lament lead us to our Savior, and may His goodness, peace and comfort strengthen us for the work ahead. 

I've fueled the flames- by Corinne Tucker
The fact that no one died in Christian Cooper’s video doesn’t mean it wasn’t a tragedy. It means our everyday normal is a tragedy.

Because here’s the thing: interactions like that happen all the time. Amy Cooper knew instinctively what kind of society we live in: one in which she would be believed and protected because she is white, and where he would be feared, distrusted, and crushed because he is black. Amy Cooper had an awful power in her hands. The power to be believed and protected at the cost of another human being’s life, because whiteness trumps justice and truth in our country.

I have that power too. White women, we all have that power.
It’s an awful power. It should never exist. It has no rightful place anywhere. It was not put into our hands by justice, but by evil. A sinister evil that we have grown so accustomed to as it is passed on from generation to generation of white Americans, that we don’t even see it. Our blindness increases its inertia.

It’s here - in my hands.
That makes my stomach twist and tighten.

While imprisoned in 1963 for working for justice, Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “Lamentably, it is a historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but...groups tend to be more immoral than individuals. We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

Did you see the burning buildings in Minneapolis? What about the GRTC bus on fire in our downtown Richmond? What about my dear sister Reinesha Jarman’s post?

It’s because we haven’t listened.
Not just that - it should never have gotten to the point where our black sisters and brothers even have to cry out to convince us that the trauma we’ve inflicted is real. We should have repented long before they had reason to protest. Are our consciences so seared and our vision so clouded, white Christians, that we did not feel the Spirit of God prick our hearts before the buildings were burning? Are we deaf to the words of Moses, Nathan, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Amos?

And yes, I’m speaking of a we. We white Americans. Because that’s the other problem: our privilege allows us to think we are all disconnected individuals, whose actions are irrelevant to others. Our individualism can sound like,
“I’ve never owned slaves.”
“I didn’t write the Jim Crow laws.”
“I’m not a police officer.”
“What does this have to do with me?”

But don’t forget - the power of Amy Cooper is in our hands too. So is Peggy McIntosh’s “Invisible Knapsack” of white privilege. We can’t claim to have no connection to the damage while we’re inextricably connected to privilege. We are carried along in a river of protection. White privilege protects our bodies from death, our eyes from seeing, our minds from trauma, our ears from hearing, our institutions from changing, our culture from humility, our jobs from uncertainty, and our consciences from responding. Is that what we want?

I want to put it down. The awful power. I want us to put it down. And by that I mean, I want us to use our power to dismantle it. To dismantle white supremacy and all of its destructive effects. Our black sisters and brothers have been speaking, crying, working, raging, waiting, explaining, hoping, hurting, and inviting long enough. God has been speaking, grieving, waiting, working, teaching, inviting us long enough. I hope we hear that their voices are in agreement. We’re the ones who are out of line.

In the same letter referenced above, Dr. King wrote to white Christian clergy, “You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.”

White sisters and brothers, before we have anything to say about the protests, I hope we have something to say about “the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.” I hope we don’t avoid social media until this fades from public attention but have the integrity to “grapple with underlying causes.”

I hope we look down at the power and privilege in our hands and ask (ask God, ask others, ask your own heart before God), “What should we do with this?”
That’s not a rhetorical question.

Northside Church of Richmond believes that all people are created in the image of God, and therefore, the gospel of Jesus should break down barriers of ethnicity, culture, socio-economic status, generation, and class (Eph 2:19-22). We desire our church body and leadership to include and reflect the diversity of the Northside with "every nation, tribe, people and language" being welcomed and celebrated (Rev 7:9). We are committed to the discipleship and Spirit-gifted ministry development of all church members from all backgrounds. We hold a strong commitment to justice in light of the country’s, city's, and church's racial history, and to honor our Northside community. 

Looking for resources on race and racial justice? We suggest beginning here: The ARC of Racial Justice, written by Pastor Matt Lorish

Learn more about Northside Church’s Mission and Vision here

Corinne has been a member of Northside Church since 2014. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida, while pursuing a counseling degree. She works remotely for NCR and has been so glad to also be able to worship remotely with you all for the past two months! In addition to social justice and emotional health, she loves sunshine, outdoor adventures, and pranks.


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