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Milwaukee United— A Reflection on the Murder of Ahmaud Arbery

by Pastor Dave Tilma on May 12, 2020

When we launched our North Side campus in 2016, we started making shirts and sweatshirts that said, “Milwaukee United.” That is an easy thing to say, but a harder thing to do. It takes intentionality and long term relationships. It also means that our problems are “united” as well. If our community or group isn’t impacted, it doesn’t mean we can just move on. Speaking with a friend today, he shared part of the tension that exists. “It is easy for someone who isn’t black to see the news report and just sort of move on. But for me, it isn’t something new and it isn’t something that I can just move past. It is actually just another episode in what it means to be black in America.”

So what does that mean? It means that being shot while jogging is something that must be factored into daily life. It means that in some parts of our country this murder would be covered up because the victim was black. That justice would be completely perverted, because of the color of the victim’s skin. This is why our brothers and sisters who are black have tried to raise awareness by saying, “Black lives matter.” Not in an attempt to say other lives don’t matter, but because there is serious doubt in their minds that their daytime murder wouldn’t be covered up by local agencies as well. Why would they have such a tremendous and serious doubt? Because this type of murder has been happening for hundreds of years in America. Talking to a woman in a grocery store or wearing a hooded sweatshirt should not get you murdered. And for white people, it does not.
If we’re going to be “united” then it means that we “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15-18) and daily put our selves in different shoes. As Pastor Paul preaches on Galatians 3:15-29 this week, it is an excellent opportunity for us to consider how we can be “one in Christ Jesus” given the racial history of similar black murders in America. This isn’t the past, because it is still happening. We can’t be united until we are united in this pain.

So this week I’m asking some of our staff who are people of color, to share their thoughts and perspectives on what this means and how they’re processing the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Please read and consider their words deeply, and may it bring us closer to being “Milwaukee United” in the years ahead.

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