Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter Uprisings
13 July 2020
Recent events in our nation have tested our collective heart and soul and exposed the lingering wounds of racism and economic injustice in this country. The growing number of unarmed Black people killed by police has again drawn attention to law enforcement’s practices of hypermilitarization, racial profiling, and over policing in Communities of Color. The Coronavirus pandemic that still takes its toll on our nation has exposed the inequities in our healthcare system particularly toward Black, Indigenous, People of Color and economically disadvantaged communities. The increase of racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric coupled with violent acts is forcing us to grapple with this nation’s enduring legacy of racism and white supremacy. Protests and demonstrations led by Black Lives Matter, the Poor People’s Campaign, and other justice organizations happening across the country are speaking out against these injustices, and we, board members of the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice (CLBSJ), stand in support and solidarity with these movements.
CLBSJ is a collective of biblical scholars, clergy, and activists who are committed to ethical and liberative biblical interpretation and to restorative justice and peacemaking. The biblical witness is consistent in its call to love one’s neighbor and to seek peace, justice, truth, and reconciliation. We embrace this call and decry any words or actions to the contrary, such as biblical interpretations that reify oppression in its various forms and any appropriation of the Bible to promote racist or divisive political behavior. We reaffirm our commitment to critical study of the Bible and to empowering uses of the Bible for enacting justice today.
We also commit to living out that justice in our own organization, recognizing that we also have work to do with regard to racial, gender, and economic justice. We realize that in order to fulfill our mission of “develop[ing] an empowering use of the Bible for enacting social justice today,” we must become much more intentional about engaging and highlighting the work and perspectives of People of Color, women, and others who are pushed to the margins in the current world order. Neither good intentions nor proper analysis are enough to combat these systemic oppressions, and relaying correct positions without taking clear, observable action can hurt more than help. Therefore, we pledge to do the following:
- Foster greater gender and racial-ethnic diversity within CLBSJ’s leadership and work to improve our practices to make space for the full and equal participation of all people
- Prioritize engaging and highlighting scholars, activists and clergy from underrepresented communities and marginalized perspectives
- Pursue creative ways to curate and deploy our collection of books and materials to disclose the central role of scholarship coming out of Black, feminist, activist and other subaltern perspectives in shaping biblical studies and related disciplines today
Finally, in this time of quickening of controversy and possibility, we renew our commitment to proactively and rigorously pursue and communicate an informed and accurate understanding of our scriptural heritage, that its light may be enabled to illuminate the challenging questions we face as we forge forward. In what ways might the Bible contribute to our reflections on defunding the police, surviving a pandemic, healing from centuries of racism, sexism, patriarchy, and other social ills? If you would like to join with us to explore these questions, please contact us at clbsj.org/contact.black lives matter