Protest with Compassion
Where is Amber? I often wonder what happened to her. Two years ago, a native Egyptian woman named Amber came to Christ The Savior American Coptic Church during Holy Week. Our church is a multicultural community and our intention is to express Christ’s love toward everyone that comes through our doors. She was with her fiancé, John, and wearing a mask. Being on the welcome team, I noticed they were new and greeted them at the entrance. She told me that she suffered from asthma and had difficulty breathing with the incense used during the services. I suggested they sit in the vestibule and I opened the doors to provide additional air circulation. Despite those measures, she began to cough uncontrollably. I offered her water, but it was to no avail. Many parishioners in the main sanctuary were uncomfortable with the doors open because the temperature was unusually cold, approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I suggested they put their coats on to accommodate her. They immediately complied to make her comfortable, because Amber’s life mattered. Yes, we all mattered, and we were all cold. But, Amber was suffering, and she couldn’t breathe.
Reflecting on the account of the Good Samaritan (Gospel of St. Luke 10:25-37), we recall that he fell among thieves. The religious people walked by him and ignored his pain. George Floyd is an example of a man that fell among thieves. Thieves of fatherlessness, poverty, and police brutality. Yes, he had a checkered past filled with sin and bad decisions, but served his time and was attempting to pull his life together. We must remember that we all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. We must love, have compassion, and be good neighbors.
Whenever a Black person tells you that they are hurting as a result of police brutality, it is extremely insensitive to respond with a list of Black-on-Black crime statistics. It is cruel, deflective, and irrelevant to the current issue. Police officers are public servants paid to protect us.
Like the parishioners who were uncomfortable when I opened the door for Amber’s sake, protesting may make some uncomfortable, but it is necessary. As we all put on our coats to support Amber, I am now encouraging you to clothe yourselves with compassion to support Black lives that do matter. Support is not exclusive to public protest. It can simply be a listening ear or non-judgmental heart and taking time to learn about our suffering. We can’t all do the same thing, but we can do something.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” — Bishop Desmond Tutu
Love in Christ,
Regina (Monica) Queen is a Black convert to the Coptic Orthodox faith, a public health professional, a relaxation therapist, and founder of “A Safe Place to Breathe”.
Please consider these educational opportunities if you want to understand the plight of your Black brothers and sisters.
Just Mercy — MOST PLATFORMS (Warner Brothers has made this free to rent throughout June in response to the protests and injustice. Linked is Amazon. However, it is free and available on other platforms.)
13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
How To Be Anti-Racist and Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
This post was originally contributed to Coptic Voice in June 2020.