Amid un­rest, a thought on where jus­tice and peace come from

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - LIVING - Tom

o jus­tice, no peace!” has been ring­ing through our streets, a hall­mark of the protests since the death of Ge­orge Floyd in Min­nesota, Ah­maud Ar­bery in Ge­or­gia, Bre­onna Tay­lor in Ken­tucky and way too many oth­ers.

It’s a cry born of des­per­a­tion — and one that makes per­fect sense. With­out jus­tice, we won’t have peace. Our de­sire for jus­tice and peace is so strong that it’s driv­ing us into the streets to de­mand them.

To me, it cre­ates a fun­da­men­tal ques­tion: Why is that? Where does such a de­sire come from? Why do we un­der­stand jus­tice and peace to be good things?

Chris­tian writer C.S. Lewis makes an in­ter­est­ing point.

“Ev­ery­one has heard peo­ple quar­rel­ing,” he writes in his book “Mere Chris­tian­ity.” “They say things like this: ‘That’s my seat — I was there first’ or ‘Leave him alone, he isn’t do­ing you any harm.’ ”

What got Lewis’ at­ten­tion is that there seems to be a shared stan­dard among us that one per­son thinks an­other per­son is vi­o­lat­ing. Some­thing about this sit­u­a­tion is not fair. And Lewis notes that the ac­cused per­son never says some­thing like, “To hell with your stan­dard.” No, he or she coun­ters with an ar­gu­ment about why it re­ally is fair — or why fair­ness doesn’t ap­ply in this par­tic­u­lar case.

Does the idea that some things are right, like jus­tice, and oth­ers are wrong, like in­jus­tice, just ap­pear? How did our un­spo­ken agree­ment about them end up in our heads and hearts?

For me, the only rea­son­able ex­pla­na­tion is that it was put there by our Cre­ator. We seem to roll out of the womb with a sense of right and wrong — it comes as stan­dard equip­ment. I haven’t heard any­one re­spond to “No jus­tice, no peace!” by say­ing any­thing like, “No­body re­ally cares about jus­tice.”

That’s be­cause we know that’s not true. I think I knew that, even as an 8-year-old liv­ing out­side Nash­ville in the late 1960s. That’s when our next-door neigh­bors, the ones with the Ge­orge Wal­lace bumper stick­ers on all of their cars, seared the first me­mory of racism into my head.

When the Rev. Dr. Martin

Davis said the im­age was also in­spired by the Black

Girl Magic move­ment — a con­cept born to cel­e­brate the beauty, power and re­silience of Black women.

With a beau­ti­ful Black wo­man more than 10 feet tall plas­tered on the side of Hill City Hard­wood at 1208 Thur­man Ave., Davis said she wants to give voice to a dif­fer­ent kind of story about Black women in the city.

“I think it’s long over­due,” said Michelline Hall, a pho­tog­ra­pher and co-owner of Black­wa­ter Brand­ing in Lynch­burg. Hall has col­lab­o­rated with Davis on projects for more than seven years and ad­mires how her col­league has ex­panded her fol­low­ing.

“She didn’t come out of nowhere,” Hall said. “She’s been here and has been con­sis­tent.”

Hall said see­ing di­ver­sity re­flected in pub­lic art is vi­tal, es­pe­cially as works ex­pand from only cer­tain sec­tions of town. Though ar­eas of down­town have been des­ig­nated Lynch­burg’s “arts district,” with clus­ters of gal­leries and shops along the river­front, Davis and Hall want to see pub­lic art spread.

“It’s full of en­ergy that is go­ing to make you smile,” Hall said of the “Make Waves” mu­ral. “It’s def­i­nitely go­ing to make you stop. It’s a mag­i­cal, whim­si­cal piece in a drab, in­dus­trial part of the town.

“It’s im­por­tant — re­flect­ing

Christina Davis worked on “Make Waves” for four long days this month. It has brought a col­or­ful and in­spir­ing mes­sage to a wall of cor­ru­gated metal in an in­dus­trial part of Lynch­burg. the peo­ple who live in those neigh­bor­hoods and those com­mu­ni­ties.”

Grow­ing up in Lynch­burg, Davis said, she had to nav­i­gate a lot of racism to get to where she is, but she doesn’t want the story that emerges from her art to be “a sad one.”

“A lot of us are putting it all into this city,” Davis said. “Black Girl Magic was some­thing so im­por­tant to us grow­ing up. It’s why we have such a strong hus­tle. We’re fill­ing gaps we see in our com­mu­nity.”

An E.C. Glass High School grad­u­ate, Davis said be­ing an artist re­quires an en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit, and she drives around Vir­ginia to part­ner with dif­fer­ent artists.

“Make Waves” was her first big project in more than two years since the birth of her daugh­ter, Amara. She said her daugh­ter was thrilled by the project — even more thrilled to watch her mother paint a wo­man “that looks like her­self.” She said these big, pos­i­tive im­ages will help broaden hori­zons for Amara and other girls around the city.

Davis said she has re­turned to the art scene with a vengeance since Amara’s birth, with new mu­rals planned through­out the sum­mer and her work cur­rently dis­played at the Acad­emy down­town and at Bean Tree Café in Corner­stone.

“We are a part of Lynch­burg. We live here. We are around the cor­ner,” she said. “We want to help change the con­ver­sa­tion a lit­tle bit, and a great start is a beau­ti­ful wo­man.”

Allen

COUR­TESY OF CHRISTINA DAVIS

TAY­LOR IRBY/THE NEWS & AD­VANCE

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