I’m writing this tired. I didn’t sleep well last night. But I have to write something down, now. It cannot wait for me to be more coherent, more thoughtful.
First off: I’m a white guy. Most of my friends are white. I went to a college where like 25 of the nearly 4,000 students weren’t white.
I sat in my bed this morning unable to sleep, so I browsed the news and my social media feeds. I sunk deeper into frustration, anger, disappointment, despair and regret…and maybe a little bit of rage. Over the last two years, I’ve mostly shared my thoughts on the current divides in our country in person, but I can’t stay quiet anymore.
There is a problem when non-lethal options are available, but the lethal option is implemented. This makes me sad. Life is precious. It makes me incredibly sad how many people are content to live in a country where it is okay in their opinion that a sizeable portion of the population has a certain degree of trepidation when it comes to interacting with law enforcement. It makes me incredibly sad when white people I know try to downplay the divide that exists in the country by mocking or twisting rally cries; cries meant to draw attention to a problem and bring about positive change. Is it really that much easier to believe there isn’t a problem?
It makes me sad that I’ve probably been part of the problem by not speaking up sooner.
It makes me said that it is easier for so many people to be divisive. It is sad that people aren’t eager to find ways toward unity. It makes me especially sad to see Christians fail to see the Imago Dei in faces colored different than their own. Too often, we try to justify violence. When did Jesus justify violence? When he was reattaching the ear of a soldier out to arrest him?
It makes me sad to see so few people asking themselves, “Is what I’m about to say going to draw people together or push them apart? Does what I’m about to say tell people I love them? Is my perspective the appropriate one through which to view this tension?”
Perception is reality. It doesn’t matter what you think about policemen. If people who should have no reason to fear or distrust policemen, do (which is the case for many of my few black friends), then that is the reality because that is their perception. Even if you think someone’s perception is wrong and unjustified, you can’t just tell them they are wrong and they need to change it. You have to walk BESIDE them. You have to look through their eyes. You can’t push them, chastise them or shame them into changing their perception. It just doesn’t work that way.
In this case, I personally don’t think the perception my friends have is off. Given the news these days, I think it is founded. Their perceived reality of a threat and the reality of a threat coincide. So now, we are faced with changing both reality and the perception of reality. Is your post going to help with those?
I have laughed at Dave Chappelle’s jokes about the difference between the expectations black men and white men have when they are pulled over by the police in his standup special “Killin Them Softly.” When I was 14, I memorized Ice Cube’s verse from F*** Tha Police. I still know most of the words to 911 is a Joke by Public Enemy.
This problem isn’t new. It’s older than me. It is as old as this country, and sometimes I wonder if rather than things getting better, the racial divide has just evolved. I’m not sure how many people are going to have to be shot before people open their eyes. Is it really so much easier to maintain the status quo?
Look, to reiterate my first paragraph. I haven’t done a good job of walking with anyone in this, but I want to. God, I want to. I suck at making friends, but I want to figure it out. I want to hang out in places where people of different races intersect and help shape a new reality and help paint a new perception, a new future. Those of you who haven’t been as complacent as me, help me find those places.
I do believe we all were created in God’s image, and we all are worthy of love as God’s creations. I want to share that. I want to be a part of the solution.
A post that hurt to read today:
@Lecrae: We were not made to be hashtags.