How do you process a lynching?

Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Countless others. We are watching modern day lynchings on viral video at a rapid pace. How do you process this? As a white person, here are a few (not all-inclusive) ideas that have helped me to process:

1. Connect with real friends. 

Instagram will never take the place of actual friendship. When I was a new staff with InterVarsity at UCLA, I remember diving head first into activism when a racist video towards Asian Americans went viral. I posted all over Facebook and marched in the protests. But my mentor stopped me and asked, “Have you talked to your roommate (who is Chinese-American) about this yet?” I was preaching to the interwebs before I had even thought to ask my own roommate how she was doing. Post the helpful articles and call your community to action, but don’t forget to ask your closest friends how they are doing (and if talking is helpful to them).

  1. Follow the leadership of the Black community.

In my quiet time today, I couldn’t find words to pray. I read Drew Jackson’s poetic lament, “All we want to do is breathe.” I listened to Michael Kim-Eubanks’ song of lament: “I am just a few stories away from my demise” and wept for a while with Jesus. I listened to Keyanna Chase’s podcast about being a mom of Black boys and I let that draw me into intercession. Then I opened up Shaun King’s emails and began to follow his guided steps to calling the DA and writing letters to our local chief of police. The Black community is offering us a generous gift of leadership. May we receive their gift and follow their leadership with humility and responsiveness. 

  1. Listen for the questions. 

Henri Nouwen says, “Frequently, we are restlessly looking for answers…without having really listened carefully or attentively to the questions.” As you listen to your friends stories and read articles, what questions do you hear? Here are a few I have heard this week: 

  • How will we raise our children to be racially and historically aware?
  • How will we be a community that protects and looks out for each other?
  • How can we start locally and influence our own networks towards a more just society?

As you sit at the feet of Black leaders, what questions have you heard that stirred something in you? How might Jesus be inviting you to explore that question further? Who is a trusted friend that you can ask to process with more?

Photo by Sticker You on Unsplash

Published by K.Aalseth

Kelly J. Aalseth is the Coordinator for Leadership Development for InterVarsity in Greater Los Angeles. She is an author, coach, preacher, and trainer.

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