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Letter 78 | American Values Religious Voices

Letter 78

DAY 78

Nicholas A. Grier

Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Spiritual Care, and Counseling
Claremont School of Theology
April 7, 2021

Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Members of the 117th Congress,

As I type this letter, the nation is re-membering the killing of George Floyd. The trial of Derek Chauvin is well underway. Clips of testimonies and newly released videos of Mr. Floyd’s killing are flooding social media. This is only three and a half weeks after the killing of Asian Americans in the Atlanta spa shootings. Tragic. These events point to the reality that we still live in a country that does not acknowledge the humanity of Black and Asian people in the United States of America. Part of the problem is that the United States too often proceeds with “progress and innovation,” while forgetting its Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian citizens. To live up to the best of our ideals and potential, we must re-member every person and community in the United States.

“Re-membering is a gift that positions us to nurture justice, healing, and reconciliation.”

Re-membering involves living with an awareness of the past and making intentional efforts to include our fellow human beings as members of the American family. Re-membering requires us to do two things. First, we must never forget. We must remember constructively the events of our past. After 9/11, many declared that we would never forget. Yet, too often, the United States proceeds, forgetting its devastating history of enslaving, lynching, exploiting, and dehumanizing Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian people. Additionally, we must remember the contributions, cultures, and ancestors of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian people. Secondly, re-membering means that we must include Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian people as members of the human family. Colonization, white supremacy, and all forms of domination and exploitation have caused many people to forget and exclude them from membership in the American family.

As we celebrate this Holy Season, I am reminded of the actions of Jesus, welcoming everyone to the table and inviting disciples to take Holy Communion in remembrance of him (Luke 22:19). To remember Jesus is to re-member the poor, marginalized, and oppressed. Re-membering is a gift that positions us to nurture justice, healing, and reconciliation.

I give thanks that you have taken the oath to serve the people of our country. May you re-member all citizens and communities of the United States of America and lead with bold empathy and compassion.

Sincerely,

Nicholas A. Grier

Nicholas A. Grier, Ph.D., L.P.C.
Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Spiritual Care, and Counseling
Claremont School of Theology

the author

Nicholas A. Grier, Ph.D., L.P.C. is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Spiritual Care, and Counseling at Claremont School of Theology (Claremont, CA and Salem, OR). He is also a counselor at The Bishop Wellness Center at Willamette University and founder of Coloring Mental Health Collective, a community-focused organization that advocates and organizes for the mental health of Black and Brown people.