It’s another year for the record books for several reasons. There is still no anti-lynching legislation and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would protect the rights secured in the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 while adding additional support for democracy, has not been passed into law. Meanwhile, new voting restrictions have been added, voter rolls have been purged and there has been a rollback of mail- in and early voting. Partisan politics and hyper-polarization around the issues of abortion, gun rights, critical race theory (CRT) and the educational system in America continues unabated. Unseasonably warm weather across the country has most Americans concerned about climate change.
Unfortunately, unarmed citizens are still being shot by police officers. Earlier this month, Richard Lee Richards was seen on a body camera in a wheelchair and armed with a knife. Though his back is turned to police officers, he is shot in the back multiple times and then handcuffed. He had been suspected of shoplifting at Walmart. The former Arizona officer involved in the shooting, Ryan Remington, has been fired.
Most recently fourteen- year- old Valentina Orellana-Peralta was shot by a member of the Los Angeles Police Department while in a dressing room at Burlington. Officers were attempting to stop twenty-four-year-old Daniel Elena Lopez, accused of assaulting a woman with a bike lock. He, too, died during the gunfire. This has, of course, renewed debates about the role of police in keeping communities safe.
But there has been some measure of justice for the families of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Daunte Wright. The police officers who fatally shot Breonna Taylor in Louisville last year still have not been charged. The same is true for nineteen- year- old Elijah McClain who died in 2019 after being unjustifiably stopped by police while walking home from a convenience store. In September, three Aurora police officers and two paramedics were charged in his death after he was placed in a chokehold and given a sedative.
All of this is happening during a global pandemic. The injustices continue unabated and like that soulful prophet Marvin Gaye crooned, “It makes me wanna’ holler and throw up both my hands.” And I do.
I write to you with a weary heart, helped to beat from day to day with one word that defines hope for me: “anyhow.” I march and pray, sing, and shout, write and paint, dream, and demand anyhow. To be sure, when everything seems to be coming at me, words keep me going.
Quotes and mantras, yes. Chapters and verses, yes. But it is also your words of encouragement, words of longing, words of understanding, words that call us deeper into questioning what it means to be human and to belong fully and freely wherever we find ourselves.
And may we find ourselves.
The Raceless Gospel is my hope. These words keep me going because I see the “kin- dom” coming right at us all. It is not too far off in the distance. It is coming to meet us and will greet us if we have the eyes to see it.
It will not come in a box or require that we get into one. No, we are all God’s children, without categorical distinction and without question. Race does not determine our human being and belonging as God’s beloved and that’s good news.
Thank you for another year of friendship and fellowship with words that heal us and give us hope. Happy New Year to you and may we never see each other the same again.