Reflecting on Monterey Park, Half Moon Bay, and Tyre Nichols

This is what I shared with my church on the morning of Sunday, January 29, 2023:

As a staff, we felt it important to talk more directly about last weekend’s shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay among the Asian American community, and then the release of the videos showing the murder of Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers. Tragically, that is not an exhaustive list of the recent violence we’re grieving.

As a staff, we talked yesterday about how we were feeling. There was a great deal of sadness. There was anger. Exhaustion. Numbness. Maybe you’ve felt the same. Maybe you’re in a place of feeling shock and outrage.

I’ll be honest. I feel a bit of whiplash. I battle the temptation to stick my head in the sand and pretend like nothing’s happened because that doesn’t feel responsible; it doesn’t feel like loving my neighbor — pretending they’re not hurting — or loving myself — pretending I’m not hurting.

But I also haven’t had time to process one tragedy before another one happens. Like I’m stuck in a constant trauma cycle. It’s a lot.

You may feel the pressure of processing your grief or your feelings at the same speed as those we see on social media. Be where you are. Allow God to meet you where you are and to be with you in your processing.

What we can’t do is pretend like nothing’s happening. Make no mistake: the events of the last couple of weekends have reaffirmed the reality of the quintessentially American principalities of gun violence and white supremacy.

When I think of the sheer number of shootings in this country, and particularly of the shootings from last weekend, where elderly Asian men took over fifteen lives, I know it doesn’t have to be this way—I’ve lived in places where it is not the case. Hong Kong, where the last mass shooting was five years ago. In the UK, there have been four shootings that claimed multiple lives since 2000.

Some might ask how these incidents can be chalked up to white supremacy when the perpetrators were people of color: “They were Asian shooters. They were Black cops.”

The how is this: racism and white supremacy are not about individual prejudice or bias or discrimination. Racism and white supremacy are found in narratives about people, taking form in systems and structures, backed up by laws and institutions and practices.

Narratives that say, for example, Black people are more suspicious than white people. Or worth less than white people. Or have to be perfect in order to avoid death.

When we say Black Lives Matter, it is because the history of our country has been an overwhelming denial of that truth.

We believe everyone is created in the image of God, created equal before God.

The problem is that we human beings, in our sin, in our brokenness, have not treated one another that way.

Here at Christ City, this is who we are and who we’re trying to be, however imperfectly: a community that points to and embodies God’s kingdom here on earth — a kingdom of justice and righteousness and shalom. We’re trying to be a people who look like our king, Jesus.

In the face of terrible tragedies and constant reminders of brokenness and sin, that is what we will continue to strive for. That’s what we’re committed to.

If you’re in need of pastoral care, counseling, or prayer, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the pastors or staff or elders. We’re here for you and we’re here with you. []

So, together, let us pray for:

– the loved ones of Tyre Nichols, especially his mother and his 4-year-old son, and of everyone who was affected by the shootings of the previous weekend;

– justice and peace — a peace that is just;

– an end to gun violence and a dismantling of white supremacy in all its forms.

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