When engaging the realities of systemic and institutionalized racism in our society it is vital that we listen to the voices and experiences of people of color. Too often we seek to maintain our own comfort rather than take seriously their stories. This reality was again made clear for us this past weekend when a rally organized to “Back the Blue” made a stop in the parking lot of a predominately African-American baptist mega-church in Oak Cliff, South Dallas. The unauthorized presence of over 1,000 cars filling the church’s parking lot caused significant concern particularly as some of the vehicles reportedly were flying confederate flags. Dallas police were quick to provide crowd control and also to note they in no way had given a permit to or authorized this rally.
In a moment like this already there is quibbling over details often seeking to discredit the voices of people of color, including the pastor of Friendship-West Dr. Frederick Douglass Haynes, III. Given the history of institutionalized and systemic racism in South Dallas, including unequal and uneven experiences of law enforcement, housing, infrastructure and school investment, access to healthcare, etc… the organizers of this rally should have been aware of how their presence in such large numbers would be perceived and experienced.
Exclusive: I recently got a chance to speak with the Senior Pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III about the unapproved "Blue Lives Matter" rally on their private property, defunding the police to invest in the community, the importance of voting and more.
Posted by Jamie Jazze Radio-Chica Maxie on Tuesday, 4 August 2020
One of the jobs of anti-racism is to listen and amplify marginalized voices. To not try to brush them or explain them away to get ourselves back to comfort. But instead take seriously and share their experience. To accomplish this I will say no more about this incident in our community but instead encourage you to listen to this interview with Dr. Haynes which was sent to me by Pastor Doris Harris of St. John Lutheran, Oak Cliff. Additionally I have included in this blog a pdf of a letter of support I sent to Dr. Haynes this week. The co-option of church property without permission should be enough to make any faith community leader concerned. That it was done in such an intimidating and significant way demands us listen and consider how our entire Dallas and Metroplex community can learn.