The Phrase: Remembering July 7

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credit: Christian Parks

credit: Christian Parks


*Originally in Dallas Morning News on July 7, 2017


Life is a peculiar thing. Occasionally, you find yourself in places you never expected. The allure of something more pulls you further. Then, the world explodes.


I watched last year as police put Alton Sterling down like an animal. The video played over and over again. I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t walk away. We began to organize a march against police brutality in Dallas. Before our preparations were complete, I saw the video of Philando Castile bleed out after being shot by police. The video played over and over again. I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t walk away.


When the time came for our march on July 7, 2016, I felt God’s presence. People kept coming. Rage was our friend.


The times allowed for no other emotion. Our rhetoric reflected the deep collective desire for swift revolutionary change. We believed then as we do now that gradualism is the greatest threat to justice.

My time was drawing near. Pain grew with every word. God drew closer. The feel of the megaphone signaled it was time for me to speak. Though many words poured out of my mouth, people remember four: “God damn white America!” Everything stopped.


During the next few days I did countless media interviews. Eventually, reporters stopped asking me to recount the events of the shooting and turned to what I said. I repeatedly heard versions of the same question, “Do you regret using that inflammatory phrase?” Amid the trauma and emotion, I gave a variety of responses.

Things grow clearer with time. This column is not an apology. It is an invitation.

In those moments, I said exactly what needed to be said. As a minister, what stronger language could I have used to condemn the systems that brutalize persons of color in this country?


After I spoke, a black man killed five police officers. Though constant racial oppression contributed to the violent climate, killing is always evil.


In the days that followed the Dallas police shooting, everybody wanted to talk about unity. In some ways, such talk hasn’t stopped. The problem is that everyone wants to sacrifice justice to achieve it. I will not.

I used the phrase because I am diametrically opposed to a society dominated by white people. How could anyone who has watched the countless videos of police brutality not join me? How can you follow the call of God to love your neighbor and be a white supremacist?


We are called to banish that which is evil. Is there anything more evil than protecting and promoting racism? If you want to stop, then stop.

The altar is open. Don’t remain in your seat. Step out into the aisle. Run forward. Salvation is here.


Invitations are never without consequences. If you decide to get saved from your racism, you will need to change. White supremacy infests every aspect of society. But the exterminator is within you. It’s called love.


For those still questioning my use of that phrase, I must simply ask: Are you serious about honoring the fallen officers?


Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa died protecting the rights of all people.

Will you live their legacy?

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