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Justice and Systemic Racism: A Statement by Allen M. Stewart
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, “Justice is the result of the fair and proper administration of law. It is the quality of being just; in conformity to truth and reality in expressing opinions and in conduct; honesty; fidelity; impartiality or just treatment; fair representation of facts respecting merit or demerit.”
Scripture treats justice as a moral imperative.
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4).
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17).
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Luke 11:42).
Against this backdrop, here are my thoughts on systemic racism.
1. God loves everyone.
2. We should love everyone too.
3. All people are equal to all other people.
4. While over its history the United States has said it believes all people are equal, the United States has not consistently lived out those words through its actions towards all people.
5. Black lives matter. These words force a reckoning with our past historical attitudes, policies and practices. We built a system that valued white lives more than black lives—and brown lives—and Native American lives. Simply saying “all lives matter” pays inadequate attention to what “black lives matter” seeks to reveal.
6. We should not turn a blind eye towards more than 400 years of attitudes, policies and actions that clearly show the United States has not fully pursued the high ideal of equality for all. We need to be courageous enough to improve our educational, economic, political, military and judicial systems so that they measurably demonstrate everyone in the United States is treated as fully human, worthy of high dignity, mutual respect and equal opportunity.
7. Violence and peace do not coexist. All protests should be peaceful. Violence against people and property should be condemned. This includes law enforcement violence against peaceful protesters and protester violence against law enforcement.