Humanize and Empower

This is more than a Great Idea from Bishop Lanette Playback of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area, United Methodist Church.

Following the brutal beating and murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, TN, Bishop Lanette encouraged congregations to be in prayer, “for the family of Tyre Nichols and for all impacted by this brutal attack”.

She then offered permission to not watch the body cam footage, suggesting rather that watching, “a video of Mr. Nichols enjoying one of his life’s passions; skateboarding“, might be a more suitable way to remember Tyre, writing, “watching the [body cam] video may further dehumanize Tyre Nichols and the pain and suffering he experienced”.

Bishop Lanette further suggested Resmaa Menakem’s My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies (Central Recovery Press) as helpful reading for anyone struggling to understand how Black police offers could perpetuate such violence against Mr. Nichols. And encouraged those called to nonviolent protest.

Read Bishop Lynette’s full letter here.

Building on Bishop Lanette’s suggestion to humanize Tyre Nichols, it may help to build up the Beloved Community to remember others who have died either at the hands of police or other law enforcement, those who have led protests and worked for justice and equity, and those who are leading efforts toward reparations and trauma-informed social reform. You can find regularly-updated lists (for all ages) of Young Leaders, Change-Makers and Adaptive Leadership, writings on Reparations and Restorative Justice and Contemplative Activism, and tools for creating worship grounded in the work of Justice and Lament, in our lib guides.

This Black History Month, re-member stories of historical and contemporary leaders whose work has pulled us all toward the dream of Beloved Community. In humanizing people who have suffered from police brutality and other violence rooted in white supremacy culture and racism, we may inspire new leaders and create a community more appreciative of the humanity of all.