Rev. Canon Broderick Greer: Decriminalizing People of Color Starts with Identifying Empires

Growing up in a proud Black family, Rev. Canon Broderick Greer’s love for his history and culture was nurtured at his home and at his church. Serving as a Canon Precentor where he oversees liturgy for St. John’s Cathedral in Denver, Greer now advocates for racial equity in his church and online with his 48,000 diverse Twitter followers.

 

Greer acquired his Twitter fame when he and a friend published a web series on the intersection of faith and justice. In their first episode, Greer highlights the story of Ell Persons an African-American man who was lynched 99 years ago in in Memphis, after being accused of raping and decapitating a white teenage girl.

 

“White Americans have a history of stealing the lives of black people through legal, state-sanctioned lethal force,” Greer said. “The same brutal forces of empire that lynched Sandra Bland, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till are the brutal forces of empire that lynched Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago.”

 

Historically in the nation, lynching has terrorized black communities, especially in the south. Today, the legacy of lynching lives in how black people are victims of police violence and are criminalized.

Greer explained that the murders of Michael Brown, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and Jesus Christ were lynchings. He continued that it all boils down to whiteness and contested black non-citizenship in the United States. He continued that it all boils down to whiteness.


That “whiteness and citizenship are ubiquitous and citizenship is a strong dimension of crucifixion,” Greer said. “The Roman Empire only crucified non-citizens and the United States only lynches non-citizens (read: non-white people). Black citizenship has always been contested. We weren’t fully recognized as citizens until the mid 1960s when we were finally afforded the right to vote along with special protections regarding housing and education discrimination.”


With the spike in hate crimes across America, Greer relies heavily on holding the people he loves close and practicing his own dignity through taking regular walks and going hiking and encourages his community to do the same.

To learn more about him and follow the St. John’s Mile High Podcast, click here.

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