Kennington Avenue

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Hatred never sees a Human Face

4 Palestinian children were playing on a beach in Gaza. They had played there many time before. They were cousins. But on this day their playing on the beach would turn into a massacre as an Israeli missile landed turning their fun excursion into a death field. Thousands of immigrants coming across our U.S. southern borders many of them children being sent by their parents to what they imagine as a life better than what they are living with in their own lands. This issue feels close to home to me as an African-American as I watch in dismay some of the crowds who have gathered to voice their opposition to these individuals very presence. I hear the ugliness coming from their lips. I see it in their eyes. I hear it in their voices. The very image conjures up another time in America when our own citizens were demanding a better life, a better education. So they demanded entrance into all white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. These weren’t immigrants coming across any border. They were already here. We were U.S. citizens but we were black. On the day that 9 Black students showed up to walk through the doors of Central 400 Whites showed up to protest their opposition. 100 National guardsmen were there to keep the crowd in check but the situation would soon get out of hand. As I have watched stories of that day what I remember are the twisted and contorted faces of Whites who were willing to die to keep their schools and their world white. The picture was ugly, the words were ugly. The day was ugly. And it is that ugliness that has been once again etched into our brain as we watch all of this unfold on our southern border.

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About the author

Ken Wheeler is a retired pastor. He most recently served at Cross Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Milwaukee, where he is now the director of the Bread of Healing Empowerment Ministry. For 18 years he was as an assistant to the bishop of the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA.