On the Recent Murders of African Americans in the United States, A Letter from the Undersigned Faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary to Our Students
June 1, 2020
(signers to this statement do not represent the Seminary or the faculty as a whole)
We, the undersigned faculty, cannot remove from our mind’s eye the image of Ahmaud Arbery lying on the street, the scene of Breonna Taylor killed in her own home, the sound of George Floyd gasping for breath in Minneapolis. Our hearts are in travail over the death-dealing reality of white supremacy—insidiously present every day in the routine and the mundane. The recent murders of African Americans are an absolute abomination. Alas, they are only the latest outrages in this nation’s long history of murderous lynching, shootings, bombings, and other lethal attacks on black lives. We find ourselves—yet again—consumed by grief, confusion, rage, sadness, and other feelings that we struggle even to name. We stand in solidarity with protests and demonstrations against anti-black violence and systemic injustice.
In this letter, we address the students of PTS. We acknowledge how these instances of anti-black violence and the deep-seated structures of white supremacy they reveal are also affecting you.
In particular, we acknowledge and address the impact of this violence on black students at PTS. We name and acknowledge the range of emotions we have heard from you.
We name and acknowledge the recurring pain that you face as new instances of racial violence are broadcast on television and social media. We name and acknowledge the fear black students face as you engage in everyday activities like jogging down the street, sleeping in your own home, or walking through “white” neighborhoods. We name and acknowledge the told and untold ways the seminary and its faculty have participated in racist structures. We name and acknowledge the frustration and despair that can curtail black students’ ability to speak and act. We name and acknowledge the rage and trauma that fuels protest. We name and acknowledge the resilience of the communities that have nurtured you.
Through this letter today, we want you to know that we stand with and alongside you.
We, the undersigned faculty, commit anew to the transformative power of the good news of the executed and resurrected Jesus. Therefore, we commit anew:
- to teach and research in ways that empower our graduates to transform churches and communities alike,
- to lead change that nurtures racial equality,
- to proclaim an incarnational Gospel that repairs the harms minoritized communities face,
- to nurture a political imagination that prioritizes the proliferation of justice,
- to create classrooms that address and intervene in the historical and continuing realities of racism,
- to bear prophetic witness to the oppression of our neighbors,
- to work with students and the wider Princeton community toward collective action.
We grieve. We mourn. We yearn for justice! We hope for God’s future here and now.
Drawing on the Spirit of Pentecost, we join in prayer:
Come once more, Holy Spirit, like a rush of violent wind and tongues of fire, giving breath, voice, and life to all those who “can’t breathe.” Meet us in our grief, anger, rage, and loss, and turn them into transformative power. Strengthen and build communities searching for justice and peace. Make all things new. Maranatha.
Members of the Current Faculty
Eric D. Barreto
Raimundo C. Barreto
Lisa Marie Bowens
Sally A. Brown
Heath W. Carter
Kenda Creasy Dean
James C. Deming
Heath D. Dewrell
F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp
Nancy J. Duff
Robert C. Dykstra
Y. Joy Harris-Smith
William Stacy Johnson
Cleophus J. LaRue Jr.
Bo Karen Lee
Bruce L. McCormack
Gordon S. Mikoski
Mark Lewis Taylor
Richard Fox Young
Adjunct Faculty, Fall 2020
Sidnie White Crawford
David A. Davis