• My Journey as a Christian: Protesting and Social Justice

    I never woke up and said “I want to be a protester.” I never woke up and said, “I want to be an advocate for social justice.” But as I’ve grown older, and widened my brown eyes to the societal injustice, I’ve noticed an awakening in me. I remember being 13 years old, moving from a predominantly black neighborhood within St. Louis’ Normandy School District, to moving to a predominantly white neighborhood in Parkway School District and I had an encounter that I’ll never forget. I was walking in our neighborhood towards my home and a black man passed me. As he walked passed me, he simply said, “Hey. How are you?” Growing up in my previous neighborhood, I was used to only speaking to people I knew or people who I met from my friends. Therefore I had tunnel vision past this man who spoke to me politely and I ignored him. But before I could get two steps further, he yelled, “Hey! I spoke to you!” Of course that got my attention. “I was nothing but polite to you. Next time you see someone, if they’re within arms reach, you speak. If you make eye contact with them, you speak. It won’t hurt to be polite!” he scolded me. From that moment on, I have had a greater appreciation for black men and just being cognizant of any individuals around me period. But being cognizant of others existence is also what brought the awareness to me that I was invisible to most.
    How would you feel if you were raised to love others no matter what, yet most of those ‘others’ don’t even acknowledge your presence? That’s a hard pill to swallow.  But I’ve noticed that social activists and protesters swallow that pill everyday. Protesters just ask/demand to be heard.
    Darren Seals

    Photographed: Darren Seals

    Protesters just want to have their voice acknowledged. Protesters just want their presence known in a form that is non violent but stern and unified. Protesters are like that guy that stopped me when I was 13 and forced me to respectfully acknowledge him. The difference that I see is that I actually stopped and listened. When do officials stop the staged toughness and actually listen? When do officials allow their emotions to take in what is taking place in everyone’s lives? When do officials really decide what side of history that they want to be on? When do officials stop and see the God in protesters?

    Photography By: LaShell Eik

    See I was never fully embraced by a stranger with love until I was hugged by a protester. I barely know most of their names but I know what their heart feels like pushed against mine.

     

    Photographed: LaShell Eik and Manyara Madu Shombay at Mike Brown Memorial in Canfield Green Apartments

     

    I never saw a person in my age range put together a family like the recently killed activist Darren Seals, when he pulled together many who may or may have never protested before but we all knew we wanted change.

    We all knew we needed love. We all knew we needed our community’s voice heard. We all knew the experience of love within a protester’s heart.
    I’ll ask again…When will officials see the God in protesters? Are all protesters religious or believers? No. But all of the protesters that I’ve met or even seen in action have the courage that has been instilled in them from up above. That is what I believe. No matter what others said to him, about him or behind his back, Jesus never stopped pursuing to save souls. No matter what stood in his way, Jesus knew he was sacrificing his life for the betterment of his people. In my eyes, Jesus was not only a prophet, but he in his own right was a protester. Many followed him and many tried to kill him. But his spirit lives and will never die. There is a God within protesters and God told his children to fear no evil. The enemy’s ONLY JOB is to kill, steal and destroy and the protesters won’t stop until justice is served.

    Photographed: Manyara Madu Shombay

One Responseso far.

  1. Deb S says:

    You’ve eloquently articulated an amazing journey. God bless you for sharing.