The biggest problem with the concept, word and/or terminology of social justice, is that it doesn't mean what we think it means. Oftentimes, when we address the issue of social justice, those who have decided to use the terminology, want first for the terminology to be understood based on their intentions and not based on the broader understanding. And that is simply not fair, but definitely quite naive.
William H. Young, author of "Ordering America: Fulfilling the Ideals of Western Civilization," writes that while often an amorphous term, social justice has evolved generally to mean state redistribution of advantages and resources to disadvantaged groups to satisfy their rights to social and economic equality. Those are incredibly important words. To satisfy their right to social and economic equality includes their legal rights, as well.
For those who profess to be Christians, justice is not optional. God demands justice. Injustice is sin. Therefore, if social justice is truly justice, disagreement cannot be allowed. We must be about justice. We must demand that all groups be treated fairly. In Micah 1:1-8, God states his case against Israel and concludes in verse 8 by saying, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?"
The Concerned Clergy of Greater Whitfield County is committed to seeing radical reform. Therefore, I end with the following statement on behalf of the organization:
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed by Minneapolis police officers. On Feb. 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was killed after being hunted down like an animal by three hate-filled men in Brunswick, Georgia. On June 12, 2020, Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man was killed at the hands of an Atlanta, Georgia, police officer. These are only three of a long list of black men and women whose names have been kept in public discourse due to the nature of their deaths. While we are thankful that neither of these three incidents took place in our city, Dalton is far from perfect, and we could be just a spark away from being thrust into the national spotlight.
There are matters in our city that need to be addressed by our leadership and our citizens. As clergy and community leaders, we stand with the Dalton branch of the NAACP and all other organizations and individuals who share these common concerns. We are willing to work with anyone who genuinely shares our interest and passion for eradicating racism in our society. We stand with them in lending our support and our voices to ensure that this time something happens and that something changes.
We urge our state, county and city officials to take the necessary steps to heal the racial divide and ensure equal protection under the law. All of our citizens, specifically people of color, are calling for true reform.
To this end, we are going to meet with state, county and city officials to discuss avenues of approaching change to address systemic racism in our community.
As the clergymen of Dalton/Whitfield County, we are going to work diligently with our officials to bring about change. We will be praying for a unified front as the community continues in peaceful protest. We will be praying for our city, state and nation as we embark upon this new journey.
Elder Windell L. Smith is senior pastor at Hopewell Baptist Church and president of Concerned Clergy of Greater Whitfield County.