(Leeann Younger. Photo by Bette McDevitt).
By Leeann Younger
The US border with Mexico is a 26-hour drive from Pittsburgh and yet the two locations have never been more connected than they are right now. The separation of families at the border and the unjust shooting of Antwon Rose, Jr. by an East Pittsburgh Police Officer are two seemingly separate stories tied together by historic themes of injustice. Black and brown bodies have always been policed and punished in our country.
Even while the images of brown children being taken from their parents shock us, it must be noted that these images are not new in American history. Also shocking is the cell phone video of Antwon Rose, Jr, being dismissively shot by officer Michael Rosefeld. Again, this image, while tragic, is not new. From slavery to Jim Crow to Ferguson, the disregard for and destruction of black bodies has been so routine that it could be considered an American pastime.
The fight to gain justice for immigrant families and the fight for accountability in the shooting death of Antwon Rose are really the SAME FIGHT. The victims and protest rallies might be different. Leaders may differ on tactics or strategy, but any fight against oppression springs from sacred roots. Isaiah 1:17 challenges us to “defend the oppressed.” The same verse can be translated as “correct the oppressor.”
Perhaps for you, it’s a different sacred text. Regardless, this fight for justice is rooted in the God-given value of black and brown lives. Ultimately, the call for “justice for Antwon” and the call to “abolish ICE” are both calls for healing and comfort for traumatized families. For true justice to be served, black and brown bodies must be given the freedom to move about this city without apology or explanation. Nothing less than the soul of Pittsburgh is at stake. This is a fight we must win.
Leeeann R. Younger is the Co-Pastor of Cityview Church on the Northside. She’s a writer, a mother of 3.