Ancient Rome and Today's America

Ancient Rome’s “law and order” used fear mongering and the control tactic of crucifying bodies and leaving them up for all to see as a constant and terrifying reminder of what happens when you come up against the government.

It was a reminder that only very specific (Roman) lives mattered.

Today it translates into the government sanctioned killing of Black people.

Today, American “law and order” relies on news and social media to play the role of constant reminder that only very specific (white) lives matter.

America watches, shakes its head, perhaps even sheds a tear over yet another Black death, but the reminder remains.

Our Christocentric society is fine with turning Black lives into martyrs in this slow genocide while we fight for the right to exist.

Black lives can matter in this country only once they have been deemed harmless— either as toddlers or dead.

If Breonna had been Bethany— if she had been a 26-year-old white woman working in the medical field in the midst of a global pandemic, it is easy to imagine a very different ending to her story. One that results in justice.

Like the model laid out in the New Testament, we must use the constant reminder of oppression to come up against and dismantle an oppressive system.

We must become a movement.

Natalie Renee Perkins received her M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary, where she was awarded the Karen Ziegler Feminist Preaching Prize. She serves as the Director of Digital Ministry at Middle Collegiate Church and as a chaplain at NYU. As a writer, lecturer, preacher, chaplain and composer, she intertwines early Christian material with contemporary society through a social justice lens and is often hired to lead antiracism conversations. She is also a co-founder of the Tanho Center and is on the steering committee for the Praxis Forum. Natalie has performed professionally with cruise lines, national tours, symphony orchestras, and the USO. She recorded an album using the extracanonical text The Odes of Solomon as lyrics. You may purchase it here.

Ms. Perkins is a Praxis Forum Steering Committee Member @Westar Institute/Praxis Forum.

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