Before I start tonight, I’d like to ask a favor. If you’re like me, then you’re doing all your shopping online. Yep, I haven’t gone in a store for 81 days. I’m buying everything online –including groceries — through Amazon.
And my “ask” is that, the next time you shop on Amazon, if you could start your shopping from my Amazon homepage. It costs absolutely nothing for you, but by stopping by my link first, Amazon will give this blog a small percentage from your purchase. It is a 100% free and super easy way to support this online ministry, and allow me to continue to bring you this content for free every week. It greatly helps, and for those who are already doing this: thank you — I am so very grateful.
OK: Onto tonight’s post!
I was sitting on my best friend’s fire escape last night around 8pm. It’s one of the things that we like to do: enjoy some conversation and cocktails while watching the sunset over Manhattan. A scene that, sitting with my bestie-since-birth, feels like a scene out of a movie — an early 2000s rom-com starring Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigl.
But last night, that movie scene was different.
You see, my friend’s apartment overlooks one of the main Avenues in Greenwich Village, and last evening — around 8pm — thousands and thousands of protestors marched down that Avenue. They were shouting, “I can’t breathe.” They were chanting “George Floyd.” There were chanting “NYPD Suck My ****.” ((Footage available on my Instagram stories))
They were angry. And rightfully so.
My friend and I watched in silence for close to ten minutes as they marched on. Floods of people – young, old, black, white, people carrying signs, people wearing masks.
At one point, my friend and I started clapping – much like the notorious “7pm Cheer” for the health workers. It was as though we knew that we were witnessing something historic. Something important. Something that mattered.
But there was a small part of me that was uneasy.
Because I knew that sadly, this peaceful demonstration now, would most probably turn violent, once the sun went down. And it did.
I don’t need to spell out for you the degree of violence exploding across the country right now. Cities up in flames. Looting, rioting, burning cop cars and police precints and garbage cans.
New York City is particularly combustive right now.
Living just a block or two away from Union Square — the epicenter of the violent demonstrations — I spent the night tossing and turning to the constant drone of helicopters overhead, to sirens wailing throughout the night, to the sound of unrest — clanging, shouting. I watched on the news of live pictures of my neighborhood, up in flames. My grocery store, my subway station. My walking route — now breaking news on every cable news network across the country.
Soho is completely ransacked. Chanel and other luxury stores with busted store fronts, and empty shelves. And my neighborhood is bracing itself for tonight. I was walking through the Meatpacking District today, and 90% of the store fronts were constructing ply-wood protective coverings for their storefronts. The Apple store was completely shuttered. And rumors have been circulating about whether or not the National Guard will be called in.
This is what my father warned me about.
I always thought he was exaggerating to spook me into coming home — but here we are, and it’s happening.
There is a difference between peaceful protest: — demonstrating for justice, speaking out against racism — and the criminal activity we’ve witnessed in the past several days from rioters torching businesses, looting storefronts, partaking in violence, defacing property. I mean, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC — covered in graffiti.
There is a difference between the two. The former is a justified response to the horrific and gut wrenching murder of George Floyd. It is a warranted expression of anger. A cry for justice. For reform. For change. And is part of our First Amendment rights.
The latter, is taking advantage of George Floyd’s death, and capitalizing on a tinderbox situation to steal, break the law, vandalize and destroy the livelihoods of so many through the destruction of property and businesses, and frankly cities at large. And that criminal activity has no place in our society.
I spent a lot of time this weekend researching and reading up on how to be an ally during this time of intense hurt and anger.
And after sifting through resource after resource calling for extreme resistance, I found myself truly resonating with the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.
His movement was one of non-violence, and I pray that in the coming days, or weeks, or however long this lasts, that the movement follows MLK’s initiative, rather than the looting and burning of cities we have seen.
“Nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation.” – MLK. ‘Nonviolence acts. Nonviolence resists. Nonviolence challenges and speaks truth to power. Nonviolence is love-centered, justice-pursuing, strategic noncooperation with evil.’ – The King Center.
What a powerful truth. These protests began as demonstrations for justice for George Floyd. For standing against evil. And the greatest antidote for those such things — and the most simple solution in all of this — is love.
Love for neighbor. Love for those facing oppression, hardship, persecution.
Love. And the greatest example we’ve ever seen of love, is Jesus: Love Incarnate.
“We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” MLK
There it is.
I pray for all those demonstrating for justice for George Floyd. I pray that their actions be peaceful, nonviolent, and be a response born from an overflow of love for their fellow man. Love for their brothers and sisters who are hurting right now. Who have been hurting for generations. Who are tired of hurting.
May we all rise with soul force to demand change, so we all can live free from fear and oppression.
And in the spirit of nonviolent action for change, I want to share a few resources that I found really helpful and articulate.
First, Benjamin Watson. He’s a former NFL player who has written a book called: Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race. I just ordered it today, and look forward to learning from such an inspiring man. He is able to articulate difficult realities in an inviting way that foster honest conversation, while not shying away from hard truths. (This article was also really powerful.)
This was a really powerful interview with Bishop TD Jakes that opened my eyes to an unfamiliar reality – in a calm, articulate and passionate way.
Finally, though this video is full of profane language, it candidly captured the raw emotion and plight caused by the looting in NYC, and the toll the destruction is taking on inhabitants.
And for more resources, check out my own Instagram, where I’m reposting enlightening articles and posts.
What are some resources you’ve found helpful? Please leave them in the comments section!
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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