The Instagram comment section was not long enough to write a good and proper reply to your comment. I'm deciding to make my reply public because you made your comment public and this would've been my reply on Instagram but I would've ran out of room. I know from the start that we are in disagreement about a lot of social issues. Second, I know that we both consider ourselves followers of Jesus. I want to affirm, I believe you do indeed seek to be in relationship with Christ in your personal life (for all that's worth). Lastly, I do not desire to get into a debate with you about social justice issues. I think we're beyond that but I did have some things that if I'm being honest have been on my heart for quite some time.
I've known you for the better part of 10 years. An entire decade. To be honest, when I first met you, I thought you were of mixed ethnicities like me- the freckles on your face, the curly hair, how amazingly well you tan in the summer. I was drawn to you because you look like some of my aunts and that's a good thing. Being in a new city and a new church, I was excited for people and things that hearkened home to Chicago. Your mere presence was a comfort because not only did you look like family, you're my sister in Christ. Every time I see you I have to actively tell myself "She's not a black woman. She's not a black woman." not because being black is bad to me (black is indeed beautiful) but because I desire to honor people and their ethnicities and cultural heritages as authentically as possible; not conform them to what I believe they should be.
For at least 4 (give or take) years I was your worship leader. I served you and the greater congregation by leading worship services at the intentionally multicultural/multiethnic church we both attended. Week in and week out we worshipped together through song, sermon, and prayer. We've witnessed healings together, seen the move of the Holy Spirit, watched people get baptized, and given their lives over to the Lord.
The in-person Ellen is AMAZING. I love the in-person Ellen. Every single time I've seen you, be it in church or in the community you have been so kind, loving, and affable. We've laughed and prayed together you've loved on my boys- you've blessed my family with tools, and remote control race cars, and supported me very recently by purchasing a cloth mask. I'm genuinely grateful for each act of generosity you have extended to me and my family over the years.
But the online Ellen, that's an entirely different story. I first saw the online Ellen in 2012 when Trayvon Martin was murdered. Your Facebook commentary caused a tremendous amount of turmoil and division throughout the church. I read many of your posts and the subsequent replies to them. This online Ellen appeared uncaring about the fact that many of her black brothers and sisters were not only crying foul but were in deep deep mourning that one of their own was senselessly gunned down......again. Per your online commentary, you were more concerned with waiting until all the facts came out and stand your ground laws than the fact that your black and brown brothers and sisters in Christ were deeply pained.
During that time, I remained silent, I did not comment on anything I read although I wanted to......I decided because of my ministerial position that I would keep quiet out of fear that I would somehow hurt my witness. I also could not reconcile the 'in-person' and 'online' Ellen being one and the same. This confounded me immensely. What I realize now is that I was ill equipped to reply to you at that time. It would've been emotional and venomous. I would've caused more harm than good. But I also realize that my silence made me complicit in the furthering of your rhetoric. I was a leader. I am a follower of Jesus. I should've spoken up and humbly asked for forgiveness later if I misstepped.
Two years passed and church seemed to return to business as usual......until Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice. My anxiety during that time increased sharply not because of what I thought I would see on the news but of what I KNEW would be said amongst my church family. And not one of you disappointed. Not. One.
If I'm being honest. I was relieved when you left our church. Not in a good riddance type of way- I was relieved because I would no longer be tormented by the 2 Ellens. I no longer had to be tuned in to what you were saying online and I would see you less in person. And if I did happen to see you in person while I was out and about, I wouldn't have to worry because the 'in-person' Ellen is always kind and easy to talk with. And it happened! I saw you and you seemed excited to see me and I was excited to see you and we chatted and it was lovely and then I didn't see you again for a while.
And then today you dropped a comment on one of my #saytheirnames post on Instagram. It seemed benign at first but I can't help but discern there is something that lies beneath. I'm intrigued by your dualism, not because I believe there is an extraordinary amount of facets to your stone but more so, because I'm truly inclined to believe that you really think you're doing good by enlightening us and are not a racist even though your online posts and comments would very rightly align you with one. I've actually earnestly prayed about it- "God what is this thing I'm sensing?!?" As I've ruminated over it, this is what I've come to understand. And this time around I'm not keeping quiet.
The way you approach is violent. Not physically, but violent nonetheless. You regularly weaponize black people against other black people. I observe that this go around, you've gotten exceedingly skilled at using black conservative pundits to try to prove some point that absolutely not one black or brown person is listening to via your newsfeed because you have ostracized many of us. We have unfollowed. We have blocked. We have muted. We have reported because we are SICK AND TIRED of being terrorized by you. The way you go about freely speaking has painfully crippled your witness.
Ten years. Ten years you've terrorized and tormented. You have wounded and injured. You have used your words and the words of your Middle Eastern/North African immigrant, governmentally systemically persecuted Savior Jesus Christ as a weapon of MASS destruction. You have torn down so many potential beautiful (and Godly) relationships because of your vitriolic and blatantly racist rhetoric. So Ellen, today when you posted your comment, you treaded on sacred space that I am charged with keeping. It is sacred because I feel called by God to do what I'm doing on my Instagram account. I will not allow you to maim with your passive aggressive gas-lit comments. Ellen, you have proven over and over and over again that you are unsafe.
When you come to my house you take your shoes off and show some respect. Respect on my platform in this season is remaining silent and making room for black and brown people to mourn and celebrate. Those are the house rules. If you can't abide, then take those comments some place else. And no. I don't want to message about this. I don't want to talk about this. This is the ONLY communication I will have with you regarding this subject. You've spoken enough. Time to take a seat.