On May 25th, 2020 our world witnessed the blatant and unnecessary killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The images of his death are disturbing and haunting. A white police officer purposefully places pressure with his knee on the neck of an already subdued black man for an unconscionable period of time until his life flows out of him. After Floyd becomes wholly unresponsive, the pressure with the knee remains, carrying forward an act of unmitigated brutality.
Cries for Justice The response one feels in watching the footage is visceral. It is not difficult to understand why protests have occurred across the nation. The officer never responded to the heart wrenching cries made by Floyd in the midst of his torture and suffering. Now people across the nation are raising their voices, agitating for a response, seeking justice and demanding to be heard.
There is no turning and walking away from all that is unfolding before us, for the seeds of slavery and segregation, lies and lynchings, so carefully sown in the soil of our nation’s past, have forcefully sprouted into the present crop of chaos and confusion. It reminds us that the looming harvest of hatred will continue until we plow deep into the soil, uproot the realities of racism and sow imperishable seeds of healing.
Reality & Reconciliation Serving my community as a Marriage and Family Therapist has taught me that a person cannot heal from what has not been acknowledged. This principle holds true for our nation. America cannot heal from the wounds of racial trauma, disparity, and injustice until we acknowledge we are still bleeding. Consider the following statements made by Bryan Stevenson in his book, Just Mercy:
“Racial terror and the constant threat created by violently enforced racial hierarchy were profoundly traumatizing for African Americans. Absorbing these psychosocial realities created all kinds of distortions and difficulties that manifest themselves today in multiple ways.”
“It seems to me that we’ve been quick to celebrate the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement and slow to recognize the damage done in that era. We have been unwilling to commit to a process of truth and reconciliation in which people are allowed to give voice to the difficulties created by racial segregation, racial subordination, and marginalization."1
These compelling statements remind us America is still reeling from the sins of its past and present, and must find a new pathway forward.
Binding Our Nation’s wounds That essential pathway, the binding of our nation's wounds, will not be easy and can only happen if motivated and expressed by a consistent demonstration of love. Protest, propaganda and policy are not sufficient. Reconciliation requires the far more powerful force of love.
We find such an example in Patrick Hutchinson, a Black Lives Matter protester in London, who carried a counter-protester to safety after realizing his life was in peril. When interviewed, Hutchinson explained,“If the other three police officers who were standing around when George Floyd was murdered had thought about intervening like what we did, George Floyd would be alive today.”2
It is my firm belief that our nation does not need to crumble, but that it can and must be rescued from its frail state by the firm grasp of those who actively pursue the good and godly endeavor to love their neighbor as themselves. Therein we find the remedy, the soothing and fragrant oil, which cleanses the heart and washes the feet of the oppressor, while ennobling and strengthening the wounded many who have so greatly suffered. This is not an ideal, this is a necessity for a nation in chaos.
Stevenson, B. (2014). Just mercy: A story of justice and redemption (First edition.). New York: Spiegel & Grau. Bloomberg Q/T News. Video: Story Behind the Photo of BLM Protesters Helping a Far-Right Counter-Protester.
Eric Gomez is a Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in building families, strengthening marriages and addressing the personal, relational, and cultural harms of pornography. He received his graduate degree in Marriage & Family Therapy from Seattle Pacific University and his undergraduate degree in Psychology from New Mexico State University.