C058 Resolution Requiring Action in Response to TEC’s Racial Audit

The video of George Floyd’s excruciating eight-minute 46-second death under the knees of a Minneapolis police officer and with the aid of fellow officers was the final catalyst in an ongoing controversy in the United States.

What is causing unarmed Black Americans to die at such a disproportionately higher rate than White Americans during police interactions? Why is law enforcement being called to intervene in some of these minor situations at all?

The tragic deaths of many African American people shine light on the broader problem that we face.

The Episcopal Church expresses that all are welcome. However, it must recognize that many of its members fail to understand that the full participation of Black Americans in some communities continues at a slow pace. Others may, in fact, recognize a problem but choose to remain silent. Some of our members know about systemic racism, race bias, and exclusion and deliberately perpetuate these injustices through overt and subtle acts without corresponding accountability.

Public law enforcement is one institution within an interdependent system of businesses, government agencies, institutions, and laws that shape our quality of life. Black Americans experience the impact of racism navigating that interdependent system daily. George Floyd, Breana Taylor, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile are proof of that, The Police use unnecessary lethal force against Black Americans and other people of color with impunity. Race bias and implied racism within social structures form an artificial barrier to the success for many people of color in an insidious way that does not involve overt hatred, discrimination, or even name-calling.

Despite the many Social Justice Resolutions that have been passed by TEC’s General Convention, the recent Racial Audit reveals that systemic racism still exists, even within TEC. Clearly, statements on equity and inclusion alone do not alter complex human conditioning.

We understand that it can be particularly challenging for White Americans to speak openly about racism and there are reasons for this. However, we must ask ourselves: “How can we proclaim that we have the love of Christ if we remain silent while innocent people continue to die?”

We have celebrated our identity as African descendants in The Episcopal Church for over 220 years. Today, we remain resilient and proud of our heritage despite the sadness that sometimes arises from the centuries-old fight against marginalization. Clearly, our work is not yet done.

By adopting this Resolution, let us take this critical step together to hold ourselves accountable to equity, inclusion, and reconciliation as a body of believers with Christ as our guide.

The late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."