Tyre Nichols was beaten to death in Memphis on January 7, 2023. Newly released video depicts the horrific nature of the beating. We all wonder, how can these terrible acts keep happening?
As we hear news of yet another senseless and violent act, we sometimes express sadness, anger, outrage, fury, deep disappointment, and sometimes we have no words. Our ABCUSA president, Rev. Dr. Jim Wolfe, recently reminded us, “It was in the sound of silence that Elijah heard the voice of God.” We all need to hear the voice of God in these times and respond as guided by God.
Our Board of General Ministries Executive Committee has been praying, reflecting, and reading texts related to anti-racism. Two of the books that we have read are Biased by Jennifer Eberhardt and The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby. Eberhardt explains that “implicit bias” contributes to “selective attentiveness,” causing us to have a distorted view and contributes to the repetition of hurtful and unspeakable acts of violence. “Implicit bias is a kind of distorting lens that’s a product of both the architecture of our brain and the disparities in our society.”
Education helps curb implicit bias. Eberhardt further states, “To understand police-community relations, we need to consider not only basic facts about how our minds are designed to work, but our history and our culture as well.”
Tisby states that “history and scripture teaches us that there can be no reconciliation without repentance. There can be no repentance without confession. And there can be no confession without the truth.”
While justice will never return a living and breathing Tyre Nichols, may the truth in the Tyre Nichols case come out and may the truth lead to justice. May justice lead to new understandings; new understandings lead to new laws, and new laws lead to new behaviors that curb these horrific acts of violence.
Dr. C. Jeff Woods
American Baptist Churches USA
January 28, 2023