Featured, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

The Christian Way To Respond To The Murder Of Terence Crutcher Isn’t Forgiveness. It’s Fury.

Back in September, Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, was walking to his car with his hands up when he was shot by Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby. This incident was captured on video by both a police dash cam and an aerial video from a police helicopter wherein Shelby’s husband, a fellow officer who was overlooking the scene, profiles Crutcher and calls him a ‘bad dude.’

Yesterday, Shelby was acquitted of first degree manslaughter.

I’m a minister in a Progressive Baptist Church in Oklahoma, and, almost immediately, my ministerial colleagues went online and started talking about the need to pray in response to the injustice of the verdict. Some even said that this is a unique opportunity to forgive Shelby, and, thereby, show the love of Jesus Christ. Many of them went so far as to ask what would Jesus do when faced with these circumstances. Their assumption is that Jesus would calmly be comfortable with injustice. I disagree. Many Christians find themselves lost when they are confronted with injustice. They assume that God wants them to be passive and overly spiritual when staring in the face of evil; yet, when I look at the story of Jesus, I see 10 things we can all do in response to injustices like the Shelby verdict that Jesus would, unquestionably, be comfortable with.

1: Drink Alcohol

Because, after all Jesus did turn water into wine in John 2: 1-11. I need some spirits to soothe my soul—and I’m not talking about any holy ones.

2: Curse

In Matthew 21: 18-22, Jesus curses a fig tree. I can curse all I want in response to this Darth Susan getting off. It’s better I get it out than hold it inside. After all, as my Jesuit seminary professor taught me, cursing is spiritual catharsis—it cleanses the soul.

3: Riot

Jesus was wilding in the temple in John 2:15. He pulled out whips and was beating niggas’s asses.  His motivation was the injustice he saw in the temple. I can riot in response to similar injustice in the streets.

4: Fight

As the above shows, Jesus was not above laying hands. In fact, in Matthew 10:34, he said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”

Translation: Punks that jump up can get beat down—in Jesus name.

5: Mourn

Too many black folks think that being a Christian means that we have to be quick to forgive. Jesus does not say this. In fact, in Romans 12:15, the Bible says we are to, “weep with those who weep.” That is, empathy is important. If we are callous to the suffering of others, then we need to reexamine our relationship with God. Further, it is important to not tell people how to mourn.

6: Cry

Because John 11: 35, “Jesus Wept,” is the verse everyone knows.

7: Sit alone in silence

In Luke 5: 15-16, Jesus withdrew to be alone. Sometimes, we do not know what so Say, Jesus modeled for us how to be alone and tarry with difficulties.

8: Express anger

Jesus would be comfortable with anger. In fact, in Ephesians 4: 26, the Bible says Be ye angry, and sin not. Anger is an appropriate response to injustice.

9: Say that Black Lives Matter

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells the stories of sheep and goats. It’s a metaphor for his followers who have concern for others and those who do not. When the goats say, “‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not care for You?” He responds by saying, “inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”

Black folks in this country have, consistently, been the ‘least of these.’ From decrepit schools to the new Jim Crow, we are the left out and the forgotten in America’s democratic experiment. I have no doubt that Jesus would boldly declare, in response to these injustices, that Black Lives Matter. If you have beef with that declaration, your problem is not with me, it’s with Jesus.

10: Pray

Because once I’ve prayed with my hands and my feet, I should certainly pray with my heart—but it will not be for their forgiveness. It’ll be that I don’t whip their ass.

Law W.

Lawrence Ware is a philosopher of race at his day job and writes if the kids go to bed on time. He is a contributing editor of NewBlackMan (in Exile) and a frequent contributor to The Root and other publications. He has been featured in the New York Times and you can sometimes find him discussing race and politics on HuffPost Live and Public Radio International. He is the kind of Steelers fan that enjoys watching the Cowboys lose.

  • Hadassah

    Yes, absolutely PRAYING & FORGIVENESS is what Jesus expects.

    Imma take Jesus out of the equation in MY response.

    • AzucarNegra

      A friend of mine says ” Yes, the Bible says to ‘Turn the other cheek’, but it never said what happens after you have tuned the other cheek”

  • clownFace Prod.

    Forgiveness is overrated. I’ll never forgive Trump voters these officers, these juries. This is the age of information. I won’t forgive willful ignorance and prejudice.

    • miss t-lee

      Hallelu.

    • Lara

      Someday you will be thanking Trump voters. He is going to improve race relations.

      • “M”

        STOP. TROLLING.

  • i work for peace, and i work to find solutions that help as many people as possible, but i cannot lie, sometimes….

    http://www.purefandom.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/American-Gods-Recap-Secret-of-Spoons-Mr-Nancy.gif

    • AzucarNegra

      I love this scene from American Gods

      • Jennifer

        That entire monologue was fire!

        • Robert Dotson

          Facts

        • Janelle Doe

          I hope he gets The Baldwin role

      • KB

        One of the realest. I hope Anasi makes multiple appearances throughout the show

        • Kylroy

          Read the book? He’s a pretty major character.

        • lkeke35

          He does.? We’ll meet him again soon, according to the books.

    • Robert Dotson

      Nice one…But that spider was Hella Creepy…

  • Wise Old Owl

    60 Minutes is partially to blame for giving their “sister” a platform to play the white female victim card and sway the jury pool with a cakewalk interview before the trial…I had no trust that a criminal injustice system in racist Tulsa with a history of abusing and killing Black Folks would hold her accountable for actions…however, I will pray that the 3 Black Jurors find their way out of the Sunken Place and ask the family of Brother Croutcher for forgiveness for their actions…

    • cyanic

      Didn’t know black people were on the jury. It aggravates the whole thing. Now I’m preoccupied on their thought process. Are they all Sheriff Clark, Charles Barkley, or Clarance Thomas?

      • Wise Old Owl

        Just lost in the Sunken Place of Tulsa, Oklahoma and probably afraid and intimidated about keeping their “good jobs” with the “Good White Folks ” of Tulsa.

        • I_AmU

          Tulsa’s also one of the former homes of “Black Wall Street.” There were other areas of Resilient prosperity post reconstruction.

          • Wise Old Owl

            I know, what happened on Black Wall Street in 1921 in Tulsa that saw at least 300 Black Folks murdered in cold blood and successful Black businesses burned and bombed has a chilling effect on Black Folks in Tulsa to this day there…They know that state sponsored violence happened in their own city without any justice…

        • cyanic

          If they truly felt that way they shouldn’t have participated to begin with to be those black jury members used as pawns.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      If they couldn’t convict, Their only job was to hang the jury.

      • Wise Old Owl

        That’s my point…at least get a deadlocked jury and maybe she would cop a plea to a lesser offense before the next trial and get some justice for his family…and a guilty conviction for her that keeps her off anyone’s police force…she is obviously not fit to serve and protect all citizens, especially Big Black Bad Dudes…

    • ?Lauren?

      Benjamin Crump was on News One Now this morning. He said that they may have been intimidated for voting a certain way. Considering where this happened, I can totally believe that.

  • Kat

    You know it’s a sad day when you can’t muster up emotion for the sanctioned killing of *another* person of color by a white person hiding behind a blue shield. Colorism…in the US Court system.

  • Giantstepp

    I feel a little bad that these incidents doesn’t emotionally affect me anymore. I mean, F her, and sure –she was dead wrong, but I am genuinely not outraged. Weird.

    • cyanic

      Most of us our numb. It feels natural just to hate white people and whiteness. But that only protects us mentally from them. What about the physical?

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        Nothing legal comes to mind when physical protection is the issue.

        I think this is when we turn to philosophers and think of natural law. Not to venerate old white men, but to have a moral basis upon which responding to unjust enforcement by unjust agents of the state with force is not only smart but moral.

  • Again- white supremacy demands that black bodies become their church. Our presence in America, to them, is one in which they can practice grace and forgiveness unti themselves in His holy name.

    So they can enslave us and forget why they did it- for money- by forgiving themselves (“It was a War of Northern Aggression. On these black bodies we forgive you”). They can forgive the deprivations of segregation in our bodies by forgetting why they did it (“We socially and politically need to maintain economic power over blacks. So we forgive you if you need to lynch black folk to maintaining our system of plunder”).

    And now we see it again. A jury of 12 has forgiven Betty Shelby because it must show that police, which has become a clearinghouse for whites who want to feel like contributing citizens and not get a college degree, will be defended at all costs. Crutcher dies and is unavenged. Shelby keeps her pension. All is forgiven over our bodies.

    But we are not forgetting.

    • Brown Rose

      I have always believed that Black bodies are seen as nothing more than fuel that keeps the engine hot. Ever notice that they can’t even see us as humans. Just body parts. Black gold.

  • Brooklyn_Bruin

    Was hoping for an old testament spin.
    Eye for an eye
    Tooth for a tooth
    Head for a head

    Then I realized that I was listening to Malcolm

    • Hadassah

      Oh son of double speak!

    • Val

      “Then I realized that I was listening to Malcolm”

      Whose birthday is tomorrow, btw.

      • cyanic

        The fictional character Nola Darling also shares his b’day.

        • BrothasKeeper

          Nola Darling helped usher me into manhood…….memories.

      • KeyBrad

        Yes! Malcolm X Festival this weekend.

        • Val

          Cool. What city?

          • KeyBrad

            Atlanta…Saturday and Sunday @ the West End Park

            • Brother Mouzone

              I’ll be there.

        • TheUnsungStoryteller

          Jealous. I love Malcolm. You know if they have one in Houston?

          • KeyBrad

            No I dont..sorry.

        • miss t-lee

          I wishhhh.

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        Ahhh that’s right. My favorite people are born in May! My Dad, my brother and Malcolm

        • blueevey

          Happy birthday to your family!

    • Jennifer

      You don’t even have to go back that far. New Testament covers it all. People thinking Jesus was just this passive and skinny dude with soft waves. He was a social justice warrior. And, that’s why they killed him.

  • Brooklyn_Bruin

    I read, scanned really, that the jury said to the judge that they wanted to explain their verdict.

    I’d rather just have their names to be honest.

    • cyanic

      No explanation needed. They all believe black men deserve unprovoked death.

  • Val

    Sigh.

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