Volume 22
Number 5
The Forum issue of Association of Professional Chaplains

Healing America

by Rev. Inetta Reddell MBE MACS MDiv BCC

When I reflect on all the turmoil and defacing of historical monuments, I cannot say I agree with eradicating history. Destroying Confederate statues is not respectable to America’s history, as is destroying Black American monuments such as Dr. Martin Luther King statues claiming the same argument. Some of the American history content is difficult to read, and I can only imagine for many it invokes painful scars.  Nevertheless, history must remain intact because when a story gets retold, it does not have the same reliance.

I believe a start to healing in America is how we, as people, stop looking backward and look forward to and deal with the growing hatred in America. Not only for “Black Lives Matter,” however, for the LGBTQ community, and the bullied child at school, for women who want to advance in Corporate America, and the list also goes on.

 It would be very irresponsible of me if I did not convey what indeed spurred me to author this article. My prayer is that as you engage with the material that it resonates in ways that cause change and evokes you to some form of peaceful, productive action.

We are currently going through a global pandemic. Everything has been inoperative for several months and counting depending where you live. Those of us with a conscious, if we truly reflect on the hate crimes that have taken place against George Floyd dating back to Emmett Till, know the atrocious nature of these unspeakable events; naturally, it spurs anger, rage, fear, and fury.

However, I believe there is a duality of events that are coinciding.  Yes, many are outraged, rightfully so, yet, if I may speak candidly, many had cabin fever and probably thought, I’m sick of being in the house and tired of the government telling me what I can and cannot do, so I’m taking some of my power back. I’m picking up a sign and joining the cause. 

The coronavirus pandemic is a systemic crisis that has severe racial disparities. Many minorities, specifically Black Americans and Latinos, have been plagued the hardest. Additionally, this is a global pandemic that makes me think about our friends east of us in Italy; it is unfathomable. 

In practically every state within the United States, the deceased amongst us with the majority of fatalities are African and Latina Americans, and why is that?  Many factors contribute to the plethora of systemic issues, starting from governmental issues trickling down to educational, housing, and medical resource issues.   If individuals are living and forced to live in systemic oppressed conditions, the likelihood of survival is slim, which is why we see the fatalities in these populations.  It is a known fact that behind anger, there is fear, and I firmly believe this population has a right to be fearful and to be heard! [1]

In many cultures, rituals are sacred.  I know first-hand in the Black and Latina culture, they are very family-oriented and gather in large numbers when someone dies.  For them not to be able to grieve appropriately is problematic in and of itself. As I mentioned previously, many Italians died so rapidly that not only could they not conduct funerals; if their loved ones lived in the US or otherwise, travel was not an option. Consequently, due to lack of space, their relatives were cremated.

Nevertheless, there are meaningful and peaceful ways to protest.  What genuinely distressed me was the fact that after many were sheltering in place in our homes for at least five or so months, depending upon where you lived, that is less I digress, those that genuinely were out protesting for the cause I commend you!  However, It was disheartening to watch the footage of those of you that felt compelled to loot and harm the small business owners whom you’ve probably known for years, like the ma and pa shops, that have been around for generations and barely making it; relying on the community. What’s more, for years, they try to bring revenue into your communities and help give many of you jobs. I’m not saying that it’s right to attack the big businesses and pharmaceutical companies. 

Nevertheless, I resonate wholeheartedly, as I listened to a recent newscast program, as one of the guests on the program astutely stated, “many of you are considered essential /service workers giving first class service and getting second class service”.  To me, you are stealing from yourselves.  Only a reckless person would do something like that, and here is why.  You say no justice, no peace!  Well, where are the justice and peace for the store owners in your neighborhood? Those that did the looting made them victims just like the same harm the police brutality invoked on George Floyd and others, just a different form of violation! I believe looting against the very people you claim you care about, more importantly, in the neighborhood you live in, is very disconcerting.  For what, some mundane things that will mean nothing and fade away? It reminds me of a quote Will Rogers once said about spending money.” Too many people spend money they earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people that they don’t like.” You didn’t deserve the things you looted, yet you’re probably wearing them for some person who could care less. It’s senseless, and in a sense, you’re doing a different type of hate crime to your people, yet many dare to turn around and say no justice no peace.   No, that type of of protest is only self-serving.

Priorities are of the essence.  Stop the looting; please learn how to protest in a way that promotes change, equality, and help to advance a cause that will evoke our legislative leaders to take notice and hear our united voices in a way that matters.  Stop the violence amongst one another and love each other, that is the greatest commandment.  If many can commit to trying to practice that, we can all breathe and live in a society that is tolerable, peaceful, and respectful of each other.

Regarding law enforcement, there may be mixed emotions right now.  However, once those who are angry calm down, I hope you realize that we do need peace and order.  I know many law enforcement officials who firmly are trying to make a difference because I work with some and have some in my family who genuinely want to protect and serve.  I have also had some bad experiences with some bad seeds in the law enforcement agency and pray they are dealt with swiftly. Perhaps there could be some compromise, and there can be a reassessment of funds where some allocation can go to underserved areas where the need is tremendous.  So let’s all try to do our part in a peaceful resolution.

Also, in closing, silence is deafening – what I mean by that is the fact that there are various forms of protest than marching with picket signs.  Refuse to patronize vendors that oppress and cause degradation.  Last, but certainly not least, many of our forefathers lost their lives so that many could have our right to vote.  In some of your spare time read Brown vs. Education, this is the cornerstone of advancement and the reason why we need to continue to let our voices be heard, counted, and matter.  Register and make your voice count, or do not complain.  All who stand in protest with the marginalized, I thank you and pray many others will be awakened to this consciousness as well.

May God Bless You All and Continue to Keep You in His Wonderful Protection.


Rev. Inetta Arlelia Reddell

Inetta Reddell, MA-Bioethics, MACS, MDIV, BCC is a  Staff Chaplain, Mission & Spiritual Care Certified Educator Supervisor Aspirant, Clinical Pastoral Education for Advocate Condell Medical Center, Libertyville, IL. & Aurora Health Center  Kenosha, WI.  She is currently serving her second term as Director on the APC Board and serves as the liaison for the National Coalition of Hospice and Palliative Care and may be contacted at Inetta.reddell@aah.org

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/coronavirus-deaths-us-race-black-white-asian-latino-racism-a9544401.html?amp  (retrieved 6-28-2020)


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