However you identify politically, religiously, socially, or ideologically, there is no denying that the sentiment among the black community in America is one of deep mistrust of law enforcement, still open wounds from centuries of oppression and slavery, and a tangible fear of all kinds of unjust treatment (based on lived experience and statistical reality).
I often think about the time a friend of mine who happens to be pastor in a mostly white context told me that she thanks God that her kids are girls and not boys because she’s scared that if she had had boys, there would be a realistic chance that they would be killed by the police. Her experience is not isolated, and is a perspective I not only trust, but look up too.
As a white male I have never once felt that my life would be threatened by the police, even though I’ve done some pretty stupid stuff in my time. When I think about having kids, I’ve never once had a fear of them being boys. As I watched and read about the horrific killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, their experience felt like worlds away from my own. As a white person, many of us have a built in sense that we can trust police officers, and that these fallen image bearers of God must have been in the wrong in some way.
But then you watch the videos again.
And then you reflect on the experiences of your black friends.
And then you read the Facebook posts.
And then you pray.
And then you listen to the stories.
And then you read the statistics.
And then it happens again.
They didn’t deserve it, and it keeps happening.
And it’s not just the killings.
It’s the racist texts, the trafficked minors, the unfair profiling, and more.
As a Jesus follower and faith leader, I’m reminded of the words of St. Paul who, in the context of living lives of worship and love, tells us to “mourn with those who mourn”.
So to my African American friends who are devastated yet again by the killing of another soul at the hands of law enforcement, I am devastated with you. I hear you. I know I cannot fully understand all that you must be feeling, but I’ll do my best to try. You have my ears, my voice, and my actions. I will use whatever privilege I have to be an ally. You matter.
To my friends who just don’t see it yet, I have a heartfelt request of you. Would you consider moving closer to the pain of our African American sisters and brothers? Without trying to filter who’s right and who’s wrong, would you just listen to their perspective? Would you put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine the history and the current reality? The pain is real, the wounds are deeper than you can know, and the need for justice is severe.
To my friends in law enforcement, thank you for doing an incredible hard job at a time like this. We pray for your protection and that you can be a force for good, coming against injustice.
To my friends in the faith, if you’ve oriented any part of your life around Jesus, would you consider following his example by moving towards the pain of others and towards the marginalized and voiceless?
It’s real. Things are broken. There is no denying it. The question for us in this becomes, what does love obligate us to?
Tonight I’ll be joining Pastor Ben McBride among other faith and community leaders at a local rally. Feel free to join: