I have been processing the events in our nation deeply for the past few days, unsure of exactly what to say, how to say it, and frankly bound by fear of saying the wrong thing and just adding to the noise. In the past, I haven’t commented on social media very much about these things. I talk about them at home, work, church…but didn’t see social media as much help.
But something shifted in me after the recent shootings. Especially the case of #PhilandoCastile…to be clear it has always broken my heart and angered me at times. But I don’t want to be an accuser.
What do you say when you feel like your words are overwhelmingly inadequate? When there is nothing to say, but everything to say? When, in the face of another’s pain, you can’t find the words, but in the privacy of your own heart you could write a book about it all?
But after #AltonSterling #PhilandoCastile and #Dallas…I am leaning towards the book option…we are called to weep with those who weep. Not judge the thing they are weeping. Feelings are legitimate. When we as white people get defensive at the grief and anger of our black brothers and sisters over police shootings, saying we don’t know the whole story or those people should’ve just complied, we are disqualifying the humanity we all share. It’s like saying a woman who was raped doesn’t deserve justice because she shouldn’t have been walking in that neighborhood or wearing that dress…What if someone told you not to cry over the death of your mother, spouse, friend?
We all share a human experience. But our experiences are so very different. Now more than ever, I am understanding that by NOT speaking out for those who’s voices aren’t being heard, I am ADDING TO THE VIOLENCE.
To remain neutral or quiet is to ignorantly choose the side of hate. That might be a bold statement. Jesus said you are either for me or against me. And God commands us to “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” Psalm 82:3
If you don’t think black people are being oppressed (which is a gross understatement) in these cases, go watch the videos of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castille being shot to death. I usually choose not to watch things like this. I don’t want images of death and fear to take over. But I felt like I needed to make myself watch these. I needed to face the horror that people different from me are facing. There is a reason I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t face it. So I did. And it was horrible. It wasn’t a movie. It was real life. You can actually watch a man die. And I acutally think all adults need to. As a mother and a wife, I’m aching inside over this. I’m holding my babies tighter. I’m so angry.
Do not be fooled, God is mourning with our black neighbors. Not the “upstanding black citizens” or “well spoken black people”…but ALL of his children that he made in his image. He wishes that none would perish (2 Peter 3:9).
Obviously, our land needs the love of Christ more than ever. Because what happened the past week is pure evil from the pit of hell. But when we as white Christians respond with merely “we need Jesus” it can appear to be a cop out to our black neighbors. And largely, it doesn’t just appear to be a cop out, it IS a cop out. Why? Because OF COURSE we need Jesus. No one ever said we didn’t. But Jesus gave you a job. And a voice. And an able spirit to go and actually do something. Policy changes kind of ARE the answer. Because God is in government. God ordained men and women to sit in seats of influence and administer his justice to the oppressed. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. Please pray. Yes. Get on your knees and pray. And while you’re there, ask Jesus how you can actually do something. Isaiah 52:7 tells us “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!'”
Like, out loud. So other people can see and hear you. Specific things like, “hey, it’s not ok to shoot a man in his car when he’s reaching for his ID like you asked him to do, in front of his 4 year old, who thank God didn’t sustain an injury from a reckless bullet that should’ve never left the chamber of the gun in the first place. Because Jesus died so that we could live and not be bound by fear and hate. And there are consequences for sinning against one another. So let’s repent.”
Stuff like that. And then, after speaking out loud, our beautiful feet actually have to carry our bodies into places we have traditionally been afraid of and love people so we can deliver this good news that brings great joy. It is ALL THE WHY Jesus came. All of it.
Here’s the thing…in issues of race, slavery, Jim Crow..these huge changes and wrongs righted have historically come from white people in power pushing policies through our government. Do you know why? Because our nation has valued the voice of the white majority over most everything else. Disagree? Then ask yourself why thousands of black people have been found weeping in our streets, crying out for change, begging their white friends to speak up, starting hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #HandsUpDontShoot…and even still, nothing has changed. (A smattering of body cameras on cops here and there isn’t cutting it, clearly) What happened this week was wrong. Ungodly. Illegal. And white people should care.
Go google Jim Crow laws. They were laws enforcing racial segregation. The phrase “separate but equal” should make you want to throw up. If we are separate, we are not equal in our hearts. Don’t kid yourselves. Those laws were in effect until 1965. We are not far removed from that time. Policy supported racism. So you know what? Policy can also condemn racism. Policy doesn’t change the heart of man of course, but that doesn’t mean we just sit in our prayer closet and pray for God to bippity boppity boo it all away.
I honestly don’t know much about policy and changing laws. But before I started teaching people how to sing, I didn’t know how to do that either. So I learned how. And now I’m really good at it. So I’m pretty sure I can figure things out. Ask the great Google machine. It holds treasures of information.
To argue and blame shift is to miss the point and rob people of their grief. Let people cry. Let it matter. For God’s sake, cry with them. “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Gal 6:2
I’m ready to let it matter to me the way it matters to my black brothers and sisters. To my black friends, I see you. I see this. I think it is horrific. And it matters to me. It matters it a way that will move me to action. I will join you in this fight.