Black Lives Matter March 2020 Speech

Yevette Christy

February 26, 2021

Rev. Yevette Christy, pastor of Community United Methodist Church, addressed the Black Lives Matter marchers last Saturday at the conclusion of the march, in the west parking lot of Custer County Schools. Pastor Vette’s remarks follow:

Good Morning, I’m so grateful that you showed up today, each of you. I want you to know that in showing up to march, to protest, we have taken the first step towards acknowledging the sins of our nation, the abuse and misuse of brown bodies, the cultural trauma and residual impact that we are continually witnessing, whether it’s a white woman in the park or a white officer with his knee on a black man’s neck. It is time to stop saying “there is no problem.”

We are here today to declare that we are committed to undoing our national, historical narrative of dissonance, hatred and violence. We are here to ask, to consider, “How can we heal? How can you, my white brothers, and sisters, acknowledge that being white in America has advantages and being black in America has its disadvantages, and begin doing the work of justice and advocacy?”

My friends we have been in a civil war for over 400 years and today we are crying out, “No more. No more violence, no more death, no more fear, no more hate. We will do the work of dismantling the lies. We will do the work of tearing down antiquated systems that serve only to divide us, to keep us squabbling among ourselves while the powers that be continually map out battle fields that never truly existed. Stop fighting for a minute and look up, you’ll see we are battling within an illusion of hate, of superiority and inferiority that doesn’t belong to us. This is a difficult work, a complex work, but today we have been called, today is the day of reckoning.

Today, we stand here, prepared to acknowledge that black people are dying violent deaths at the hand of law enforcement officers gone rogue. Today, we stand here, prepared to acknowledge that black people endure a level of psychological warfare, racism that you in your whiteness cannot understand. But, that doesn’t excuse you from trying.

Today, it is time for this nation to stop criminalizing Black bodies, like Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland. It is time to set a national agenda around addressing the state sanctioned violence against Black life, vitality, and culture. “Black Lives Matter!” The citizens of this nation cannot be more outraged about the “lawlessness” of property damage than the black men and women who have been struck down, unarmed, by fatal force. This cannot be tolerated in 2020! This nation, the media and governing bodies, seems to support this idea of patriotism that excludes and minimizes the sacrifices of brown and black bodies, while idealizing an anthem, and a flag over and against the real pursuit of liberty and justice for all!

So, do the symbols mean anything if we aren’t living into what they represent? Does this nation not value the virtue of integrity? Does this nation not value being whole and undivided? Are we okay with just spouting iconic messages with no desire to live into them?

I don’t ask these hard questions in order to be divisive, to be mean; I ask them because until we call it, until we admit it, until we say it out loud, then there can be no recovery, no healing. When we are honest, then we can do the work of addressing who we are, individually, communally, and nationally. If we are sincere, if we are deliberate, the veils that cover our hearts and the scales that dim our sight can be systematically deconstructed. This is why we are here today, to begin the work of confession, repentance, and healing.

To be an ally you must know the story, you must study the history, you must know the cases, and then you can discern the lies and actively engage your black and brown brothers and sisters with understanding, and empathy. So, let’s stop being immature, and being offended by someone else saying that their life matters when we see, with out own eyes, Black people being killed without justification, and ultimately without justice.

We must stop ignoring racism in American, we must stop being selfish, only looking at current events from our side of the fence. Come over here, where I am.

Let’s do the work, stop being lazy, seeing the world, and each other, from lenses we did not craft, nor have the courage to challenge. We have accepted a narrative of fear, distrust, and hate. It’s time to reject it and rebuild, rebuild with love, a love that goes beyond sweet sentiments and calls us into radical change. Let us rebuild with honesty, moral and ethical accountability, and advocacy. Not an emotional advocacy that comes and goes with the most recent tragedy, but advocacy that keeps the conversation going, and the unifying work of equity as a constant priority.

We are not enemies.

We are allies.

Come over here, where I am; let’s do the work of understanding our collective trauma and aggressively pursue a way that leads to peace and justice for all.

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