By The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas
Easter morning makes clear that God will not tolerate crucifying realities that deny the sacred dignity and life of any human being.
Laquan McDonald, by three years old, was a ward of the state. Passed around through various foster and relative’s homes, he was emotionally and physically abused. On October 20, 2014, he was murdered by a Chicago police officer.
Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquín was Q’eqchi’-Maya, from Raxruhá, Guatemala. Driven from their land and caught in the “crosshairs” of drug wars Q’eqchi’ people are among the “poorest of the poor” in Guatemala. On December 8, 2018, Jakelin died in the custody of the US Border Patrol as a refugee seeking asylum with her father.
Ashanti Carmon at 16 was “rejected by her family” because she was a transgender woman. Homeless, she slept on friend’s couches and in budget motels. She picked up jobs wherever she could, relying sometimes on sex work. On March 30, 2019—the day before Transgender Visibility Day—she was killed by multiple gunshots at the northeast border between Washington D.C. and Maryland.
Laquan, Jakelin and Ashanti were victimized by crucifying systems, structures and cultures of neglect, poverty, and transphobia. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s definitive response to such crucifying realities.
The Easter resurrection firmly establishes that God does not in any way sanction the unjust suffering of human beings. It reveals the essential character of God’s love— a love that is justice and hence values life. It makes plain the “sinfulness” of crucifixions. Jesus’ resurrection utterly reveals God’s uncompromising commitment to restore life to crucified classes of people, and God’s absolute power to triumph over crucifying realities of death.
In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, the resurrected Jesus instructs the disciples to “go to Galilee” a place of the “poor and despised” because this is where they will find Jesus.
Easter morning, therefore, calls Christians to meet Jesus in the Galilees of our world where people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ and other “poor and despised” persons are suffering and dying. We are compelled to these places to join God’s resurrecting movement to stop the crucifixions of God’s people. For us to be anywhere else is for us to be in the crucifying crowd. It is for us to betray the Easter message.
Laquan, Jakelin and Ashanti were all children of God. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, the crucifying realities of their deaths will not have the last word over their lives.
Laquan was an “outgoing, jovial, talkative and funny” 17-year-old. He wanted to play basketball. He “showed up to school every day and demonstrated a commitment to his classwork.”
Jakelin was 7 years old. She was loved by her mother, Claudia Maquin and her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz. Her grandparents and the people of her small town miss her.
Ashanti was “a tall, vivacious” 27-year-old woman. She had long hair and wore bright makeup and nails with gel polish, with glitter — she loved to dance, especially to “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé.” She lived with her fiancé and adopted a cat.
In the end, Easter is the absolute refusal to allow the final verdict on a person’s life to be a crucifying verdict.
Let’s us join the Risen Lord in Galilee heeding the Easter call to put an end to crucifying realities.
Alleluia Christ is risen.