We all need to pay attention

/ 9 January 2012

Wisdom from a community activist organizing around the death of Danny Chen:

We all need to pay attention when anyone in this country is attacked for his or her identity, not just when the attacks are against people who are like us. When a gay college student is tormented by his peers to the point of suicide, we all need to respond. When a black man is beaten by power-crazed police due to prejudice, we all need to respond. When a state decides to chase out its undocumented immigrants, the very people on whose backs its economy depends, based on obviously false economic justifications, we all need to respond. And not only that, but we also have to respond to the daily reality and culture of oppression in this country, including stop-and-frisk, bullying, and hate speech, which make life for marginalized people impossible. We all need to respond to these things because they are not isolated events – they are symptomatic of something else that is dangerously wrong at the core of this country. We need to emphasize the fact that these attacks on people from our communities should not and, in reality, do not affect only our communities.

What does it mean to pay attention to this? How is it that we can begin to emphasize our connectedness? I don't know. But I think it has to start with being willing to acknowledge how much of this is happening, how pervasive and systemic it is here in the US. And for those of us who are Christian, we have to recognize that Christ is being crucified again in the midst of such attacks. Refusing to see what is going on is sinful.