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On Saturday evening in Philadelphia there was a mass shooting. Three people were killed and many others injured. It was on South Street, a place I have frequented many times. We pray for the surviving families and those injured, as well as, those traumatized by the attack. The work to fix and heal our city is not just rooted in getting the guns off of our streets but also addressing the material condition of the lives of Philadelphians.

Far too many of our siblings experience deep hopelessness that does not allow them to value human life, Including their own life. This is a result of centuries of leadership, policies and structures saying to its citizens – especially African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, Indigenous and Bi Racial folks – “you do not matter.” Eventually it is internalized and believed. It also permeates our airwaves, social media screens and even our faith traditions. It is rooted in white supremacy and white Christian Nationalism.

I know everyone wants to blame the shooter and they do in fact bear responsibility but so do all the people that created the conditions for the shooter as well. We can not heal or fix the problem until we all own our complicity in the creating the conditions for this violent society to exist without trying to fix it eons ago. We must not only look at immediate issues but also commit to fixing the poverty, education, housing and wage crisis that exists and perpetuates the hopelessness that drives the violence, in particular gun violence, in Philadelphia.

Anything less than a comprehensive plan is a band aid.

Grace and Peace,

Bishop Dwayne D. Royster
Executive Director