Imagining A World Beyond Policing
Updated: Jan 12, 2021
Take a moment to pause, take a deep breath in, and imagine a new world.
Imagine a world where elders are honored in neighborhoods, where their doors are always open to those needing a place to vent and rest. In this world, no door is locked because everyone knows everyone in the neighborhood. The smell of home cooked meals drifts throughout the block, inviting all who are hungry to come around a table that is surrounded by bellies full of hearty food and healthy laughter. Prisons are abolished because there is no need for them as the abundance of resources are distributed and available for all. Each week, or whenever necessary, the neighborhood hosts weekly storytelling circles where all perspectives are heard and where past and present wounds and grievances are acknowledged. And, grievances are taken to heart because everyone in the neighborhood knows that when one person is hurt, all are harmed. Forgiveness includes affirmation of each other and action steps to move toward greater healing and accountability. The children in the neighborhood run around the streets freely, laughing and playing games because they know they are protected and watched over by other loved ones in the neighborhood. All are able to breathe deeply and laugh fully because the air is clean and cleared of pollution.
Return to your breath. Take a deep breath in, and release.
Imagining a new world is the beginning of taking the action steps to create it. We are able to move with the momentum of inspiration as we step into new ways of existing. As we thread together parts and pieces of this world that we've already seen, we must acknowledge the gaps that still exist in our societal fabric in order to get there.
From Imagination to Action
As faith communities who are dedicated to support the health and well-being of human life, we cannot remain silent at this pivotal moment in our nation’s history. As protests continue across the United States over the rage and grief of countless Black lives lost due to the violence of the state, we cannot afford the luxury of silence. We need to commit to the discomfort and messiness that comes with confronting the privileges that keep us comfortable. Racism is a deep wound that our society avoids healing because in doing so, all systems would need to be dismantled.
In our work for environmental justice, we must address the root causes that enact environmental injustices. That is why we cannot talk about achieving environmental justice without talking about achieving racial justice.
Black communities continue to struggle for the right to breathe not only at the hands of police, but also in the climate crisis. Coal plants, garbage incinerators, and other centers pouring out carbon emissions are found in higher rates within communities of color, particularly Black communities. The location of these polluters results in worse air quality in Black neighborhoods, which in turn results in higher rates of severe health outcomes, including asthma and other lung diseases. The same violence induced by the state and the climate crisis center the same disturbing problem: the devaluation of Black lives.
Because of these systemic trends rooted in racism and anti-Blackness, it’s not enough to be an environmentalist who does not also pursue racial justice. If we commit to planting 100,000 trees but do not dedicate any efforts to the struggle for Black lives, then violence and destruction continues to exist as corporations pollute at alarming rates without any form of accountability to the lives and the planet they destroy. In order to achieve a world where all can breathe, we must prioritize the lives of Black community members.
The world we imagined is not far away. Some parts of it exist in various ways and in various communities. We’re seeing change happen at an extraordinary rate, but we need to address the issues in our own houses of worship. We need anti-racism commitments and actions to be incorporated into everything organizations do so that genuine healing can occur in order to build a new world.