By Creation Justice Ministries Executive Director Shantha Ready Alonso
“I can’t breathe.” These were the heartbreaking recorded words spoken by George Floyd and Eric Garner in their last moments before being murdered at the hands of police officers. Jogger Ahmaud Arbery was out to breathe some fresh air when he was murdered by white supremacist vigilantes.
Yesterday, many Christians observed Pentecost, the day a great rushing wind -- the life-giving breath of God -- called the Church into being. Today, we begin Ocean Month, and remember with gratitude that approximately half the oxygen we breathe on God’s good Earth comes from marine photosynthesizers, like phytoplankton. To be Church, we are called to rightly share and sustain the life-giving breath of God that flows through each person, and animates all of creation: both spiritually and materially.
We have a moral responsibility to end conditions contributing to so many Black people being forced to breathe their last breath before their time has come. White supremacist vigilantes, police, and the prison system are continuing to regularly perpetrate horrific violence against Black people. African Americans are perishing from COVID-19 at approximately twice the rate of the general US population. Generations of environmental racism and economic inequity compound other life-threatening forces. Black bodies bear the health burdens that come from disproportionate exposure to pollution and inequitable distribution of healthy food. Black communities also disproportionately labor in unsafe work environments and need access to quality healthcare. Communities of color have received fewer emergency preparedness resources and less disaster relief from the government, which has proven to be a deadly under-investment. In everyday interpersonal interactions, discriminatory exchanges in workplaces, neighborhoods, parks, the media, commerce, and public policy forums take their toll on chronic stress levels as they repeat over and over.
Now is the time to act with urgency to restore breath to the people, affirming that Black Lives Matter, too.
The Creation Justice community has a unique role to play in upholding reverence for Black lives: We must end environmental racism. We cannot rest until Black communities have equal access to safe air, water, and soil. We will support Black food justice. We will hold government accountable for just climate resilience planning, and equitable disaster relief. We will support Black workers calling for protections from exposure to toxins. We will demand government stakeholder processes for environmental decisions that truly include the guidance of Black communities that will be impacted. We will defend opportunities for Black communities to benefit from the healing power of God’s creation. This means the outdoors are accessible, welcoming places that not only uphold Black safety, but also foster Black wonder, Black Sabbath rest, Black heritage-sharing, and Black joy.
We begin the June "Ocean Month" Creation Justice Actions by centering Black lives, so all can BREATHE.
In addition to our usual bulletin insert, education and action resources, we have included in our Action Center a round-up of ways our members are upholding reverence for Black lives, which we will continuously update as resources are posted. We support the efforts of the ecumenical community in seeking justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others. We also uphold the efforts of our members on policing reform, as well as transforming our broken criminal justice system.
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About this Blog
This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.