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Reflections after Floyd’s death

To the editor:

Words fail me, a white pastor, as I try to express an understanding of the pain and anger and sadness that have been expressed by so many over the past days, weeks and months because of the deaths of Ahmaud Aubrey (February in Brunswick, Ga.), Breonna Taylor (March in Louisville, Ky.), George Floyd (May in Minneapolis, Minn.) and others. These deaths have sadly laid bare, once again, the racial inequalities and social injustices that people of color have endured for so long in our country. The health and economic impact of the coronavirus in communities of color has also been a sad reminder for me of these inequalities and social injustices.

It saddens me to see the violence that has erupted. While I believe that the vast majority of protesters and police are people who do not seek out violence, I also believe that the few who do use violence for their ends are to be prayed for and to be held accountable for their transgressions. As my parents taught me, two wrongs don’t make a right. May we seek justice for all who have been wronged as we see the divisions that still exist among people.

It is my hope that those who are followers of Jesus will heed the words of the Lord found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (with some of my present-day comments in brackets): “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves [and seek to build personal relationships with people of color] and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways [by being involved in seeking justice for all and working on changing systemic racism], then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

As the book of James says: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (2:26).” In these days, may we put feet to our thoughts and prayers in our local community.

Rev. T. Floyd “Skip” Irby Jr.

Suffolk