Letter: Chris Stevenson, Purcellville

Editor: We met at the doorstep, the pastor and I, two days ago to discuss pandemic-fueled hunger in our congregations; the conversation between friends slowly but inexorably turned towards police brutality in Minneapolis, everywhere really, and the plight and gnawing fear of black Americans.

This leader of a western Loudoun African American congregation, which is filled with the most dear salt-of-the-earth people I’ve ever met, could not talk of what happened in Minneapolis without weeping—I saw the tears; no, I didn’t see them as much as I felt it them, even at a social distance. There it was, right in front of us, slavery and its ruinous aftermath, in 21st century Loudoun county.

He looked at me, both of us persons of the cloth, and asked if I feared for my children each time they went out of the house. I don’t and never have; he does and always has. He can’t fathom such hate; he does not understand it. He and his people carry this burden forever, it seems—they fightto not let it consume them.

He looked at me, a person belonging to a church that in the past contributed to the humiliation and oppression of his people, me an American in a class that looks too often and maybe always, with indifference on slavery’s ramifications, and I felt to wilt under his kind and non-judgemental gaze. Me, a person of privilege who has perhaps too long not been part of the community of Christ he and his people are building under duress.

Today healing may come here and everywhere, if we sit with them and their people, ask them if they might hold our hands, and listen, only listen.

Chris Stevenson, Purcellville

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