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Bayo Ogungbade

VCU Student, Interdisciplinary Studies; 

High School Youth Director, Chester United Methodist Church

"I’ve begun to question my choice of remaining silent. I’ve come to realize now that most of it was out of my fear of opening up my heart and being emotionally vulnerable..."

My friends,

 

The late and great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

 

For as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve always believed that one of our main duties as Christians and as followers of Jesus is to spread God’s love throughout the world in all the ways that we are able to. For everyone, the understanding of what it means to spread God’s love can look different for each of us. Some of us may be content with saying a simple “I love you” to our loved ones every day, while some of us may be content by going out into the community and expressing our love through acts of service like going on mission trips in foreign places.

 

However, the one thing that still remains consistent regardless of how we choose to express God’s love to others is that God has respectively equipped each of us with our own unique gifts and abilities to spread love in the world. As someone who has been blessed with communicative abilities and gifted with a platform to communicate with large numbers of people, I’ve always aspired to be a man of faith that God can use to actively make a difference in the world that we all live in. As a communicator, one of the biggest hurdles that I’ve often had to face throughout my life is figuring out how to speak God’s love and truth through difficult times.

 

In light of the horrific racial events that have transpired within the last few days, my heart has been through a vast range of emotions. To name a few, I’ve gone from feeling heartbroken, saddened, anguished, disgusted, angered, and disappointed. Then this same cycle of emotions along with some of the other indescribable feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that many of us people of color tend to feel when faced with racial adversity began to repeat itself over and over again until I felt like I had no choice but to speak up and speak out.

 

For so long, I’ve always tried to keep my head down and keep all of my opinions to myself unless asked to express them. However, when witnessing a deeply traumatic event like the death of George Floyd which was caused by a member who belongs to a community that has been tasked to protect all of us as an officer of the law, I’ve begun to question my choice of remaining silent. I’ve come to realize now that most of it was out of my fear of opening up my heart and being emotionally vulnerable with others in a space where anyone can say or do anything.

 

However, Proverbs 31:8-9 states, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

George Floyd was someone’s father. Someone’s significant other. Someone’s son. Someone’s sibling. Someone’s friend. Even as a person of color who closely identifies with George Floyd’s race, I can honestly only imagine the immeasurable pain that his family and loved ones are feeling right now. Every day, they are waking up to relive the same footage of hearing George Floyd’s cries for help while being choked to death under an officer’s knee and seeing all the violence that has erupted between the police and those who are protesting over the horrific manner of his death. They are now forced to painfully realize that just like many other people of color like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, and Trayvon Martin, George Floyd’s name has been added to the list of countless black lives lost to police brutality. They’ve had to see how the value of his life has been measured down to a numerical statistic.

 

My friends, I conclude this message to encourage the fact that we all have to do better for our world. As stewards who have been called to responsibly spread God’s love and compassion throughout the world, we must do our parts to hear, listen, and understand the needs of each other in Christ’s love. Some of us might be willing to sit down and have these uncomfortable conversations about race with you, but as I’ve stated before, we all have our own unique ways of spreading God’s love in the world.

 

Regardless of how we choose to spread God’s love, I believe that the ultimate culimination of the unique gifts given to us through God’s love is when people from their own different walks in life (race, gender, culture, ethnicity, etc.) are able to have a seat of the table and listen to one another with no one holding back true feelings in fear of saying the wrong things to each other out of naive ignorance. Instead, we will be able to speak and listen to each other in an environment of knowledge-seeking and understanding of our unique ways of life despite our differences. Simply just to see and be in the presence of one another. Regardless of whatever it may be that makes us different from each other.

 

I believe that this will be when hatred can truly begin to die and love can shine in all of beautiful glory.

 

Thank you.

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