A week or so ago, this image appeared in my Facebook news feed. For me, the image is powerful for many reasons but two in particular:
1. It shows two mothers (Sybrina Fulton and Lucia McBath) who have lost their sons because they were black. Do not tell me we live in a “post-racial America” where racism is no longer a thing or that the Stand Your Ground law/defense is somehow legit.
2. Both mothers resemble Mary, mother of Jesus, at the foot of the cross. They are the mothers of the crucified. (John 19:25)
As we near the Lenten season – the time of year when we reflect and remember Jesus’ capture and crucifixion – this theme of the “crucified among us” will soon become the focal point of our worship, making the power of death much more real.
However, living a crucified life is more than a seasonal thing for many of the young people in my community. That is, to be young and black is to be crucified daily by racial profiling and violent policing. For these black bodies, every day is a constant struggle that doesn’t always end in resurrection.
With this in mind, I have been sitting with these “texts:”
Dear, ‘Afraid’ Armed White Men, where are your morals? Can you not see childlike innocence in a certain type of ‘teenager’ just because they’re black?…Your act is up.
Of what value is the soul of an African-American teenager? Today, in America, it seems like there is not an equality of souls, of human beings, especially when it comes to the lives of young African-American men.
The stench from your houses of worship is wafting its way across this country, polluting citizenship, demoralizing parents and families, mocking accountability and blaspheming the Holy God whom you say you love and worship. If that offends you, try reading Amos.
The triptych, three 40-by-46 inches panels of 11 portraits, is a 21st century interpretation of the biblical infanticide ordered under King Herod and captured by 17th century painter, Peter Paul Rubens. Walker’s innocents are young men and women including Amadou Diallo and Rekia Boyd, all senselessly killed by racism, he says, within his short lifetime. Walker is 24.