An OpEd submitted but never approved…

To the Daily Times: Salisbury, MD June 8th, 2020

As I see images from protests around the country, my heart keeps coming back to a piece of scripture from the Gospel according to Luke. Jesus is in his hometown of Nazareth, and gets up to speak in front of a gathering in the local synagogue. He speaks from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

To set the oppressed free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

He then goes on to say how the gift of God’s love was given to people other than those deemed worthy by those in the room… and that was when he was driven out of town and almost killed.

Prophets are never accepted in their hometown…

As the president of the United States calls for violence against protesters; as police across the country fire tear gas into crowds and rubber bullets into bystanders; as people in our own community call for violence against people holding signs on the side of route 13, it is clear that the God so many Christians claim to worship in America is not the same one that told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The same God who came to earth as the dark-skinned son of a working family living under an Empire. Who spread a message of radical love and community that threatened the authorities of his day enough to brand him a criminal. A man who was publicly lynched as a warning to all those that may have followed him.

Prophets are never accepted in their hometown…

And like those who heard Jesus’ message of love and only felt fear, we lash out violently, trying to silence the voices that tell us what we don’t want to hear.

Just like we silenced the voices of Ahmaud, Breonna, George, Trayvon, Tamir, Sandra, Philando, Eric, Michael, Martin, Malcolm and countless others, because they told us the truth about America.

We are not who we think we are.

But just like Jesus’s death on the cross was not the end of the story, neither is the hate and fear that we experience.

Listen to the prophets. Proclaim the good news that we were blind but now we can see.

We are not who we think we are

But what we could be is still worth fighting for.

Even with the threat of violence, the rise of authoritarianism, the reality of White Supremacy, this is still the year of the Lord’s favor, and none of us are free until all of us are free.

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James Yamakawa is a Husband, a Father, and a child of God. He likes Video Games, Batman, Ancient History, Japan, and questioning White Supremacy.