GCORR board president Bishop Minerva Carcaño responds to the death of Michael Brown

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I don’t know all the details or all the truth about the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.  What I do know is that we are all accountable for his death and accountable to the African American young people in our communities everywhere.  When Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Florida, I turned to African American young people I know in an effort to understand what Trayvon’s death meant to them and how it affected them.  With others, I tried to be a pastor to them as it became clear that the death of Trayvon was personal for them.

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If Trayvon could be murdered then what about them?  Does being black make them a ready target?  If they were murdered, would anyone care?  It was a sobering conversation.  Recently, a young woman who participated in the conversation asked me when we were going to have another time together.  It was necessary to keep talking, she said.  I want to keep talking with these young people.  The future of our churches and communities depends on them and our relationship with them.   The death of Michael Brown has made the conversation so much more urgent.  As I get ready for that next accountability and pastoral conversation, particularly with African American young people, and out of respect and care for them, I have become more observant and more concerned.

As I read and listen to the news about the death of Michael Brown I have observed and am greatly concerned about several things, and the list grows every day.  I am concerned that:

  • after more than a week, no information is clearly available about what prompted the shooting and death of unarmed Michael Brown;
  • the response of local and state officials has been a military response with police officers in riot gear and armored vehicles, police sharpshooters in position on top of those armored vehicles in the face of demonstrators, the use of rubber bullets, tear gas and smoke canisters, and the arrest of many;
  • there has been looting and damage to and destruction of businesses in Ferguson, in Michael Brown’s own neighborhood and the community where he lived and died;
  • the composition of the local police department in Ferguson, which is primarily white, does not reflect the majority African American population of Ferguson; and
  • the conflict between demonstrators and the police is escalating.

African American young people of Ferguson, Sanford, and every other community in the U.S. need our caring attention and a clear word of what is right and what is wrong.  It is morally wrong that young African American teenagers are being killed in our communities.  Racial ethnic communities should not be treated as war zones.  Looting and the destruction of private property are not helpful, but one must consider the underlying factors that lead persons to the extreme place of destroying their own community.  A white police department in a predominantly black community is a clear sign of racial disparity that should be questioned.  All of this merits prayerful conversation with African American young people, the members of our congregations, and the leaders of our communities.   Right now this is particularly true for those who live in Ferguson.  However, the rest of us should not wait until what has happened in Ferguson happens in our communities before starting the deep conversation about racism, racial profiling, economic injustice, and other related issues that I suspect underlie all that we are seeing in Ferguson.

May prayerful Christian conversation lead us to actions of social holiness that by God’s grace transform all the places where racism and all its symptoms and systemic manifestations still prevail and give African American and other racial ethnic young people hope of a better future.  As we do this work, let us continue to pray for the family of Michael Brown and all the people of Ferguson, Missouri.

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño is the Los Angeles area resident bishop for the California-Pacific Annual Conference. She also serves as president of the General Commission on Religion and Race Board of Directors.

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21 Comments on "GCORR board president Bishop Minerva Carcaño responds to the death of Michael Brown"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Kevin
Guest

I got more insight about Ferguson from
Cracked.com than from Bishop Carcano.

Ken
Guest

Oh, really? What does Cracked.com get that Carcaño doesn’t get? Me, if I’m looking for a different perspective, I’m inclined to look someplace like here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/08/27/the-outrage-driving-the-ferguson-debate-ignores-these-three-key-facts/

Kevin
Guest

I read it. Still prefer Cracked. Dropped my Post subscription years ago.

james
Guest

why would the media handle this story any differently than it does the rest of the news. twisted stories that create controversy are the order of the day. the bishop plays right into the media’s hands and enjoys the attention. facts be damned!!! bottom line!!!

Wes Andrews
Guest
Bishop Carcaño statement reflects how out of touch, as a LEADER, she is what what is really occurring. While I am moved by some of what she says, she seems to place blame on all of us on what happened to Michael Brown. To quote: “What I do know is that we are all accountable for his death and accountable to the African American young people in our communities everywhere.” That’s a very progressive mentality: shame and guilt. Progressives eclipse fundamentalists on placing the guilt trip on people. I have fought the battle in and among the African-American community. I… Read more »
Ken
Guest
Bishop Carcaño’s statement, as its opening indicates, comes out of the fact that she is indeed “in touch,” as a leader–she has been talking to African American youth, and has been listening to their fears. I’m left wondering how in touch you are as a leader. How much listening did you do, when you were supposedly marching side-by-side with African American pastors? What do the pastors you were marching side-by-side with have to say, now, about Ferguson and Michael Brown? What does the Gospel you profess have to say about the very legitimate concerns that Bishop Carcaño raises? No, we… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Ken, I would like to rescind the tone of my last comment and filter out my emotions and communicate more clearly. First, I apologize to you and to Bishop Carcano. While I do not agree with many things that Bishop Carcano says or does. I don’t know if she is out of touch or not. It is unhelpful for me to attack of put Ken in a position of defensiveness. The primary thing that I should address is not Carcano, but specifically what she says. Again her quote: “What I do know is that we are all accountable for his… Read more »
Ken
Guest
Thank you, Wes, that is very gracious of you. I wasn’t necessarily looking for an apology on my own behalf. There are so many sides to this issue of race in America. Carcaño gets some things right, others, not so much—her perspective is as limited as anyone elses’. “Accountability” swings both ways. A slogan-chanting mob torching a convenience store isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind when I think if the word, “accountability.” There’s that troublesome security cam images of, apparently, Michael Brown shoving around a convenience store clerk half his size—there are accountability issues there, too. And… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest

Agreed.

And now a shake of the hands. I will be respectful in future dialog.

My prayers is that the truth will come out and that it will set folks free, or put them on a path of repairing the problems in Fergeson. So much of the problem is that so much of it is sensationalized and then everything is confused….

james
Guest

Division, mostly, Wes–just as her taking part in the illegal immigration demonstration at the white house. You have said–Russ has said where in the world is the leadership that the umc craves/needs/must have from the council of bishops in order for the umc to survive. Please check out this website:
http://www.onenewsnow.com/perspectives/bryan-fischer/2014/08/28/christians-softer-kinder-gentler-approach-aint-working#comment-1563519954

Ken
Guest

I don’t quite see your point, Russ. What is it you want me to explain to you? Do you have anything to say that actually relates to the issue being discussed? Do you have any specific rebuttal to the points I’ve been trying to make?

Kevin
Guest

The point of view of someone who is an apologist for looters is not to be taken seriously. Not all opinions are of equal merit or worth.

Ken
Guest

You expect the point of view of someone who shoots an unarmed teenager six times to be taken seriously, right?

Kevin
Guest

I read this four times thinking that I was misreading Bishop Carcano’s statement. She seems to be justifying looting and destruction as an understandable response to alleged racism. I am not buying what she is selling nor do I feel guilty for being white.

Ken
Guest
Another thing: she’s not “selling” anything; she is presenting a point of view that is grounded in her lived experience. You, also, have a point of view, grounded in your lived experience. You expect her, and others, to take your point of view seriously, right? Than you are obliged to take hers seriously. As I see it, the officer involved in the shooting may very well have been justified in using deadly force. No one knows for sure at this point, but I expect that point of view to be taken seriously. I am also obliged to consider seriously the… Read more »
Ken
Guest

Russ, it completely escapes you that you are the one who is out of touch. Your thinking, such as it is, is centered on your own narrow and tiny perspective. Your commentary, such as it is, is entirely lacking in substance, and isn’t grounded in anything but your own ill-considered prejudices. You come across as an ignorant, racist bigot.

Ken
Guest

Saying it’s “understandable” isn’t the same thing as “justifying.”

Ken
Guest
Bishop Carcaño is absolutely correct with regard to the larger social concerns, which have been in play for centuries, and which the situation in Ferguson only serves to highlight once again. It is a fact too well-documented and established to be denied—for those who care to look—that virtually every economic indicator available shows that African Americans are hit harder by our economic woes than whites. Unemployment/underemployment hits them harder, the housing crisis has hit them harder; health care is not as widely available among he African American community as it is in the mainstream. Ignorant, ill-considered commentary about “gravy trains”… Read more »
Ken
Guest

I have the utmost respect for Bishop Carcaño. She is a hero of mine. The flip and insolent way in which you refer to her–not to mention your apparent incapacity to address these issues with anything other than worn out and false clichés and stereotypes–says more about you than it does about her. As I attempted to point out in my post, I think her remarks are absolutely correct, as far as they go. My purpose was to challenge her and UM leadership to take understanding a step farther.

Paul W.
Guest
Only Michael Brown’s friend who was there and the officer involved know for sure what actually happened in Ferguson. Everyone else, except for the immediate Ferguson community, needs to just butt out and let the investigation proceed; this includes the looters, the pundits, and Ms. Carcano. When speaking for the UMC, Ms. Carcano has a duty to be truthful and unbiased. However, Ms. Carcano’s bias is unfortunately displayed through her references to Trayvon Martin’s “murder”, her excusal of the looters due to “underlying factors”, and her implication that there is a pattern of police “killing African-American teenagers”. Also, Ms. Carcano… Read more »
MethodistPie
Guest

In the latest round of elections, 6% of African-Americans in Ferguson went to the polls. That goes a long way toward accounting for the “racial disparity” in the local government.

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