Do not merely quote words that make you feel good and do not challenge your thinking and actions. Do not tweet quotes that are nothing more than a Twitter performance when in actuality you have done nothing to support the causes that impact Black America. Do not use Dr. King’s quotes as a way to “check” Black America. Do not ask Black America, “What would Martin Luther King Jr. do?”… be reminded that Dr. King said: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”… When you tell Black America, “Well, it’s the law,” be reminded that Dr. King said, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
My friends, what the Black Lives Matter movement is saying is that black lives are just as important as white lives, just as important — not more important, just as important. Why, why my white friends is it so very hard for so many of you to love us as humans with something of God in us? Why, why my white friends, is it so easy for so many of you to hate and want to do us harm because of the color of our skin? Why is it so hard for you, my white brothers and sisters, to get beyond just words and act in love for us blacks the same as each other? The Black Lives Matter movement is saying all human life should be treated with love and respect; after all, whether we like it or not, we are all God’s children and part of the human race.
Forgiveness without repentance is what theologian Dietrich Bonhoefer, quoting Adam Clayton Powell, called cheap grace. It lets us believe we are off the hook for our evil without demanding any real change on our part. In the case of the murder of Botham Jean cheap grace lets us white people maintain our sense of innocence and goodness without first facing up to the role we all play, knowingly or not, in maintaining systemic racism.