Black Lives Matter

Doru Costache

Here’s the story. There was this man, black, who died, no, who was brutally killed by merciless white men. Not many people knew the black man, though some did. Initially, their cry was their own. But, very soon, their voices, the voices of those who knew him, were overcome by the voices of tens of thousands and then millions of people who throughout the world began to retell the dead black man’s story, as they understood it. What matters is that the story broke out. We live in an age where the truth tends to come out sooner than it happened centuries ago, when many similar stories—from the beginning of the colonial age till quite recently—went largely unheard and largely ignored. In our age of global connectivity this is a story which cannot die as quickly as the killed black man died. His story was not and is not and cannot be forgotten, regardless of who wishes to quash it, or at least to deride it. People talk. People remember. People continue to tell the story. Rumours cross time and space at the speed of light. And all of sudden the story of the dead black man becomes the story of many, perchance the story of many more, perhaps the story of all. People from countries which, centuries ago, enslaved the dead black man’s ancestors, now realise that the killed black man is not one. They realise that he stands for many—for the millions who suffered at the hands of their own, white, ancestors. And they, the people of countries which made possible the violent death of the killed black man and of his many forebears, now take to the streets in protest. They decry the brutal killing of the dead black man, as well as the viciousness of their own ancestors who demeaned the black man’s ancestors, denying their humanity. Rightly so. But the rumours about the killing of the dead black man go farther away. Now they reach the land—still a colony—where white people massacred, enslaved, persecuted, and disenfranchised other black people—the First Nations of the land, who lived there—here—for tens of thousands of years. White people stole the land of the First Nations, together with their lives, in the name of the same ideology which allows white-skinned people to deny the humanity of people of other colours to this day. Here, in this land so distant from the country of the killed black man, together with his story other stories are being told, of many more black men and women whose lives have been destroyed by the white overlords, as they still are. The story of the killed black man does not disappear though in the thicket of so many related stories. It becomes a richer story by being told together with other stories of pain, suffering, humiliation, and discrimination at the hands of white-skinned people, today and yesterday. The story of the cruelly killed black man grows larger therefore, becoming the springboard of many other stories by joining the dark ocean they form. One more drop in the terrible story of human beings destroying other human beings because the latter’s skin had not lost its pigments during the last ice age… But this one drop fills the glass. Nobody can stop now the river of pain from breaking the dams of discrimination and oppression. The story of the killed black man is out. The many stories of killed men and women are out. Their stories will not die as quickly as the black man died, even though he didn’t die as quickly as mercy would have demanded. These stories cannot be killed. His story and their stories have now become the story of many more, black, white, and other colours. These stories will keep upsurging from the hearts of those who suffer, and of those who empathise with those who suffer. Their fire will cleanse the world—and God works with and through those who work.

African mural honouring George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement

Some readers might have guessed that the above is a variant of Rubem Alves’ parable of Jesus Christ’s story as a dead man, and its impact on the people who told and keep telling his story. If you didn’t guess it, then, quickly, grab a copy of Alves’ The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet, and read. According to Alves, this is how the story of Christ broke out, through people telling his story—the story of a dead man—from generation to generation, bringing hope and life to all who hear it. The paschal revolution. This is also true for the story of George Floyd, which has now lit up the world. And, as in Alves’ narrative, where the “scholars” ruined the paschal revolution by unearthing (or is it inventing?) the “real historical Jesus,” dramatically diminished and insignificant, so the history repeats itself in George Floyd’s case, the viciously killed black man. In his case, too, the “scholars” attack either the movement which his tragic death generated or his own character. They say that he was this and that, that he wasn’t as saint as, supposedly, they, the “scholars,” are. As though this can justify the killing of a human being. They say that the movement which his senseless killing generated is one of vandals, robbers, and criminals—and that it is highjacked by the Democrats, or by the Russians, or by the Chinese, for political gain. Right. The violence and the robberies aside, it is apparent that these “scholars” cannot feel the joy of the paschal revolution; they can’t live in a paschal manner. Sometimes I believe that they can’t live at all. They need to butcher history. They need to butcher life. They need to butcher hope. What matters for them is that the truth be told, the conspiracy unveiled, the failures of the main character brought to the fore. George Floyd wasn’t a saint. Right. What matters for these “scholars” is that their supposedly lucid analysis prevails over and against life and hope. What matters for them is the abyss of hopelessness and pointlessness which their righteous rationalisations keep deepening from the beginning of the dark age—pompously called enlightenment—onwards. They don’t even realise how narrowly stupid their method is, how arrogantly biased. How can the disclosure of the killed black man’s personal failures and shortcomings efface the fact that he was savagely, senselessly killed by racist representatives of an oppressive ideology which denies people their humanity? How can the disclosure of the killed black man’s personal failures and shortcomings obscure the story of millions others who suffered abuse, persecution, and death at the hands of killers who had/have or not “scholarly” claims to make? How can the disclosure of the political machinations of the Democrats, or the Leftists, or the Russians, or the Chinese justify the “scholarly” attempts to dismiss the global outrage—as late as it emerges in the shameful history of modern colonialism and racism—against the savage killing of the dead black man, as well as of the dead black, red, or yellow men and women killed over several centuries of colonialism in the name of white supremacy? How can, moreover, the “scholarly” point about the irresponsible acts of vandalism committed by some idiots in the name of the movement obscure the validity of the movement itself? Shame on you, “scholars” who wish to kill stories as easily as your white peers kill people of different colour…

Australian Aborigines in chains, 1902

Regardless of George Floyd’s character flows and regardless of what powers attempt to gain political capital on the expense of the movement his story has generated, he remains the dead black man whose story has become the origin of a worldwide movement. And the movement matters as much as George Floyd’s death. The movement matters as much as any life—especially the lives of those who are oppressed because of the colour of their skin. The fact that the movement arrived here, in Australia, during our Reconciliation Week 2020, is more than a coincidence. It is providence at work—and God works with and through those who work. Black Lives Matter. The lives of the oppressed matter. The oppressors should bend their knee and silently ask for forgiveness, for their own sins and for the sins of their ancestors who killed the ancestors of the dead black man. Moreover, the oppressors must change, becoming human beings. There is no paschal revolution, no future for the world without people profoundly changing their mind and heart. Racism isn’t Christian. Racism isn’t human. There is no justification for racism, regardless of the trifles the “scholars” would impute to either George Floyd or the movement his death generated.

9 June 2020 © AIOCS

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