At a virtual service, AU chaplain mourns deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others

‘We despair of the violence done by white privilege and racism,’ Oskvig said

At a virtual service, AU chaplain mourns deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others

The Kay Spiritual Life Center, the home of faith communities at AU, in 2019. 

The Office of the University Chaplain hosted a virtual candlelight service on Sunday filmed in Kay Spiritual Life Center to mourn Black lives lost as a result of police violence. 

In a video that was streamed live on Facebook, Interim University Chaplain Bryant Oskvig delivered remarks to the AU community following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black Americans that have been killed by police officers and other citizens.

“We despair of the violence done by white privilege and racism on Black and brown persons and the seeds of despair it sows in our communities,” Oskvig said. “We struggle with how to transform our nation, our neighborhoods, our campus and our own lives.”

Oskvig invited viewers joining the service virtually to light a candle “in memory of all of those who came to this country and built it with labors not of their own design.” Oskvig also noted that, while chattel slavery was abolished in the 19th century, oppression still persists.

“We light our candles as an act of recalling the violent and insidious methods by which white privilege has been afforded ‘whiteness,’” Oskvig said. “We name the advantage that has been afforded the few at the cost of many.”

Oskvig called for a moment of silence, lasting eight and a half minutes the amount of time that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck. Following the moment of silence, participants were invited to take part in prayer and a Litany for Justice with Oskvig.

In an email to The Eagle, Oskvig said that Kay has always been a gathering place for the AU community, and “the current events are no different, we just do so at a distance.”

“Our lament for this tragic loss turn toward our resolve to change our nation and our world,” Oskvig said in an email. “In naming the violence done by white privilege and racism against black and brown bodies, we commit ourselves to recognizing and changing systems of oppression.”

The service concluded with closing remarks, in which Oskvig spoke of the importance of pursuing justice in society.

“We hope that it spoke to your heart. We pray that it strengthened your spirit,” Oskvig said. “I pray that you, wherever you are, be resolute in the cause of justice, especially in undoing the white privilege and racism that defines our society, and work for an abiding peace that covers the whole earth and touches everyone on it.”

asheffey@theeagleonline.com

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