Christina Edmonson, dean for intercultural student development at Calvin College, grew up in Baltimore and attended the church hosting the funeral service for Freddie Gray, who died after an apparent spinal injury in a police van. Riots erupted. She writes eloquently in Christianity Today, describing how one police officer modeled civility and gave her a childhood ambition to join the force. Another fourth-grade encounter was more sobering:
Playing in front of our apartment complex, my friends and I were approached by a patrolling officer who told us we were too noisy. As fourth-graders, we all responded, “Yes, sir,” almost in unison. The officer then turned to the only boy among us, a black boy, and sternly told him that he deserved to be spanked. And that if his parents would not do it, he could and would.
Middle class Caucasians think of such encounters as exceptions. African Americans — of all walks — nod their heads. They’re routine.
Edmonson, a committed Christian, says neither complacency nor violence works;
As [Freddie] Gray was eulogized …,I thought of how desperate we are for a reemergence of a deeply gospel-centered philosophy of nonviolent resistance. Both passivity and misdirected rage are unproductive and delude us of real issues. Christ’s story, a divine lens, gives us an alternative in which to understand what we see around us, within us and how to justly respond.
An important caveat: So far, we do not know how Gray was injured. Nevertheless, she has profound thoughts. Read them all here