Continuing the Conversation: Penny and Black Lives Matter

Black lives matter

In this week’s podcast, I interviewed all three of our kids about their experiences over the past few years of reading diverse books, traveling to museums and historic sites in Civil Rights’ history, and learning most recently about the death of George Floyd. When I asked Penny why our family attended a local protest and, later, a local prayer gathering, she said, “Because black lives matter is a real thing.”

Penny doesn’t know all the details of the controversies over the phrase “black lives matter.” She did read a book (which she also talks about in this episode) in which a young Black girl has to decide whether to identify with the Black Lives Matter movement or not. But Penny doesn’t know people critique it as a Marxist, atheistic slogan. She doesn’t know people counter with the words “all lives matter.” She just states a simple truth: Black lives matter is a real thing. 

Black Lives Matter

For centuries, Black lives have been devalued in America. First, those lives were literally devalued, written into law as ⅗ of a human person. Later, they were devalued in both demeaning attitudes and actions of the majority white culture, and they were devalued through laws that prevented access to democracy, education, wealth creation, and work. And lest we think that devaluing happened way back then, we can still see the gaping wage and wealth gap between Black communities and white communities, even when controlling for education. 

It is a bitter irony that George Floyd died over a twenty-dollar bill.

What was George Floyd’s life worth?  

For the purposes of making health care decisions, insurance companies value individual human lives at one million dollars. 

Spiritually speaking, human lives hold intrinsic and immeasurable value. 

Proclaiming Truth

George Floyd’s life mattered. All Black lives matter. And white Americans have, again and again and again, demonstrated how little we believe those words. 

And so we stand up and proclaim Black Lives Matter. If proclaiming this truth aligns me with an imperfect movement, so be it. The fact that this truth needs to be proclaimed is an indictment of American democracy and of any semblance of a Judeo-Christian ethic that claims to value all lives. 

So, I’m with Penny. Black lives matter is a real thing. A real truth that calls us to protest injustice and pray for active peace. (You can listen to this episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.)

For an explanation of how white evangelicals have responded to the Black Lives Matter movement, here is an article from the Atlantic about the reasons pastors see it as controversial, and here is an article from Christianity Today about the relationship between the Black Lives Matter movement and Marxism.

To read further with Amy Julia and for more resources to talk with kids about race:

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