Not because I didn’t care. Not because I wasn’t mad. I get mad every time. I get frustrated every time I have to scroll past yet another story of someone being killed, because of their genetic make up. Past the stories about young kids walking home with their hoods up, or an unarmed man pleading for his life.
Not because I didn’t care. But because I hate the ignorance I usually find in the comment section. The same ignorance that finds its way to a news headline, trying to justify someone being murdered by combing through their entire history, as if a mistake they made 5 years ago, warrants them being executed in the street without trial. As if, the media and the viewer, has the right to bypass the facts of the event and deem someone worthy, or unworthy of death.
The same narrative is repeated over an over, and as a society we’re starting to look foolish because we’re expecting different results without a change in strategy. I tried to scroll past people trying to silence the cries of a specific people group, just to defend themselves and feel better about something no one was blaming them for.
I tried to scroll past it.
Not because I didn’t care, but because I felt helpless. Because ranting on Facebook has proven time and time again, to be unproductive. Because I didn’t want to alienate some of my fairer skinned, friend group. Because I didn’t want to be labeled another “angry black woman” who’s best ignored, in order to be silenced, because she makes people uncomfortable.
That night I had a dream. No, more like a nightmare. I was standing with my family, but one was missing. The youngest, that grew to be the biggest, only 17. Gone. The specifics of how or why were not included in my subconscious reality. Only pain. Only loss. I couldn’t breathe. I woke up still gasping for air. It took longer than normal for me to return to reality. I was in my room. I was in my bed. My little brother was alive.
The first thing I saw when I opened my phone was, #PhilandoCastile.
Please, God, not another one.
I believe the Lord used that dream to break my heart for what breaks His. To show me how He grieves for the brokenness of the world, and how He longs to see healing. He’s not just sitting up in heaven thinking “it is what it is,” or “if only they would listen, and turn to me.” He’s heartbroken. So I should be too.
I thought of my little brother, who is 6’5″ now. Who plays 3 instruments, and pleaded with everyone to buy him an ocarina for 3 years straight. (look it up) He could be next. I was ridden with fear, because the events leading up to the tragedy don’t seem to matter. The character of the deceased doesn’t seem to matter, unless it’s coming into question. There’s not a formula to follow, to keep him from leaving this earth and being immortalized by a hashtag that’ll last a couple weeks, and fade away until our camera phones find the next tragedy.
I know fear is not the answer. If we give in to fear, we give in to the Enemy. But I’m also done with obligatory “likes,” and closing my eyes, and hoping that it would go away. Hoping that what I was taught for 15 years in school, was true. That we live in a “free” country. We live in a “fair” country. We have a freedom that has been “fought” for. Past tense. Finished.
The truth is, we’ve got a lot more work to do. Pretending like we don’t, is never going to get it done. Like Esther going before the king to plead for her people, I will step out in obedience to the Lord and never stop fighting for the healing of broken hearts belonging to people of every color. Because in reality, a prejudice heart is just a broken heart. A product of a sin nature that no amount of policy is going to truly heal. There’s only one remedy for that. But that doesn’t mean that we need to stop fighting to see a real and practical change, in policy and strategy.
We know how to fight for that. When I was in high school, I loved learning about the Civil Rights movement. I liked history class, but I was never a huge fan of learning about all the different wars we’ve been in, because I’ve never truly understood the concept. But hearing about SNCC and the “freedom riders,” a bunch of kids not too much older than me at the time, who were fearlessly standing up for what they believed in – that inspired me.
I was grateful to be in a “post civil rights” society, but I longed for their courage, their zeal, their bravery. I wanted to know what it must have felt like to not live in a state of apathy, to be driven by conviction and fueled by passion.
Now I know that they probably would have much rather had the freedom to stay home and watch American Bandstand than risk their lives on a bus. They would have much rather had the option and the privilege to turn a blind eye to the oppression around them, but they didn’t have a choice other than to demand change, because they faced a very real fear for their lives and their freedom.
I guess I got my wish. The only difference between now and then, is that then, everybody was aware of segregation, they just couldn’t come to an agreement on whether or not it was a problem. Now? We have to prove the issue exists…AND the fact that it’s an issue.
It’s tempting to give in to the exhaustion. The kind that comes from centuries of fighting to be who God created you to be, without having to explain or justify – just be. It’s tempting to give in to the anger that comes from being unheard, looked over, subdued. It could be easy to give into the separation, to only band together with those who “understand,” and create more hate, a cycle too dangerous to begin.
But if you belong to the Body of Christ, you know the only way to heal is to come together. To collectively lift our eyes to the Father and cry out to him to heal our broken world. To claim victory over evil. To show His glory on earth.
Matthew 18:20 “Where two or more are gather in my name, there I am with them.”
The answer isn’t to stand against law enforcement. The law officer isn’t killing people because of their skin color, Racism is. It’s not confined to a specific job title or uniform. It can be lethal there, but that’s not the only place we need to see Racism die. Until we recognize the tool the real Enemy is using, give it a name and call it out, we’ll never see change. The solution isn’t to point a finger – it’s to shine a light on the hidden enemy that has deeply embedded itself into the deep crevices of our society. Don’t blame the uniform. We need to seek a change in the thought processes of our society as a whole. More killing isn’t the answer. Retaliation is not the answer. That’s only giving the true enemy unneeded ammunition.
We need to search, with a fine tooth comb, and expose it in every corner.
The enemy is hidden in that story you’re telling your friends about an encounter you had at a gas station, and choose to include the detail where a “big, black guy” came up to you to ask for some money, when “big guy,” would have been a sufficient adjective.
You might not think you’re allowing the enemy access to your speech and thoughts, but even still, you’re actively shaping and fueling this idea that black men, especially ones that are over 6ft, are meant to be feared.
We all could be contributing to the problem. And until we, like a surgeon, take a close look at our thought patterns, and world views, and be brave enough to go in with the sharp knife, cutting out every last bit of the tumor, the cancer called Racism will continue to live.
I lived with a “big, black guy” my entire life. When I was 12, I even joked with him that when I was older, I had plans to write a book titled “My big, black, bald-headed, daddy,” meant to celebrate his life, our adventures, and my love for alliterations – ignorant of the fact that those words, in the hands of our society are meant to marginalize, and villainize him.
He golfs. GOLFS. That’s like the least threatening pastime in the history of the world, but still this world tells me I should fear him. With him, my mom birthed two other “big black guys.” They didn’t start out big. I remember them as the little boys who would beg me to play Hotwheels, or just one more round of Mario Party 5 ,with them. But now, along with teaching them how to drive, I witness my dad teaching them not to walk into a gas station with their hood up, when we stop in them middle of the night on a long road trip.
It’s not fair. It’s not fair that I have to be afraid that my little brother could get pulled over for riding in a car with his friends, and maybe the offense of playing their music a little too loud, would be met with deadly consequences.
It’s not fair that I have to think about whether or not people are going to follow my other brother around GameStop because they’ve been conditioned to target him as a thief.
It’s not fair.
I tried to scroll past #AltonSterling, because I felt like my thoughts, my opinions, my voice couldn’t change anything. But that’s just another lie. Another tool the Enemy will use to keep things just the way he likes them.
I can’t scroll past #MitchellJones #MJJones or #MichaelJones. I can’t ignore my cousins, uncles and friends.
It might be corny, but the only way to fight darkness is to flood the world with light.
So, I’m here to fight. I’m here to love.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5