Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ending the silence...

Okay.  Enough.  I have to write.

So much has been written far more eloquently than anything I could ever say, but I guess that doesn't mean I should stay silent.

Are you watching the events unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, after an 18-year old black kid was gunned down by police ten days ago?

Is your heart breaking along with mine at the sad, sad state of our country?  Police in army tanks and riot gear, pointing rifles and shooting tear gas?

It's so hard to form words.  It's hard to watch.

It's so broken.  It's so messed up.   There is so much injustice, and I even get the feeling that alot of  people don't even care.

As awful as it is that Mike Brown is dead, it's not why people in Ferguson and all over the country are so angry.  Mike Brown is not the reason moms of black boys everywhere are afraid and heavy-hearted.

Mike Brown is yet another death, another name, in a long string of unjust deaths of black men at the hands of white fear.  EVEN IF the killing of Mike Brown somehow turns out to be justified upon investigation, just go with me for a minute.

Because it's the Trayvon Martin's we hear about, and it's the thousands of other stories we don't.  Just two days after Mike Brown was killed, a man named Ezell Ford was shot by Los Angeles police and in Ohio, John Crawford was killed in Walmart WHILE HOLDING A TOY RIFLE.

Did you catch that?  He was holding a TOY RIFLE in a toy aisle.  What about that deserved DEATH?  

Ferguson isn't an isolated event.  It's a tipping point.  It's a people who, for decades, have daily experienced a world VASTLY different from mine.  It's a group of people that, not too long ago, were enslaved, owned, and not considered to be HUMANS.  It's a group of people that are currently arrested and incarcerated, beaten and murdered by those who are supposed to "serve and protect" them at staggering proportions.  It's a people who are tired of enduring this oppression with no sign of justice in sight.  

And I honestly can't say that I blame them.

(Now, obviously, I'm not advocating or excusing lawlessness as a response, and neither is most of the black community in Ferguson, for that matter.  The civil rights movement was advanced the most when the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. taught blacks to be nonviolent, to turn the other cheek as Christ did, and to fight injustice with love.)

But there is reason to be angry.  There is a time for crying out and lamenting injustice.  May I be so bold to suggest that those who can't empathize with the reactions of anger in Ferguson have little to no understanding of life from the African-American experience.  

White mothers don't have clerks follow their sons in stores.  White mothers don't have to prepare their sons for the day they are frisked by the police because they look suspicious.  Women will not clutch their purses more tightly in fear when they see white sons.   (A Mother's White Privilege was a well-written post about this.)

Y'all.  I can't even IMAGINE a cop pulling up behind me and yelling, "Get the %*@# off the street!"  Umm, are you kidding me?  He'd never get away with that in a white neighborhood.   He knows he'd be reported and disciplined, and that the powers-that-be would likely believe me and take action.  Why do they think they can get away with that treatment in a black neighborhood?  Even from the initial encounter with Mike Brown, life was devalued by the one who was supposedly there to protect it.  

(That's the reality of white privilege, which sadly, many in our country refuse to acknowledge.  But whether or not you acknowledge it doesn't mean it's not there.  In our country, it simply is what it is.   If you're white, you have advantages that you don't even see or realize, because you've never had to see or realize them.  The Christian knows we are all beautifully made in the image of God.  Diversity was His glorious idea to begin with.  So the one who loves what He loves also loves those He made and loves as well.  And since I can't do much to change my country's history of white privilege on a grand scale, the question to those of us with this privilege becomes, how might we use our privilege, as unfair as it may be, to love and benefit those who don't have it?)

I was taught that cops are good.  They go after the bad guys.  They protect us.  They help us.  In black America, cops are the ones who mistreat us and fear us.  They're the ones who come and take away our daddies in their cars.  They're the ones who shoot us if we're not careful. 

(another thought-provoking post: In Which I Have a Few Things to Tell You About #Ferguson)

Much of white culture wants to think we are colorblind, living in a post-racist society where white privilege doesn't exist.  I'd still believe that if I hadn't crossed paths with and learned from so many minorities.  What dream world are they living in?  Isn't Ferguson showing us otherwise?

Obviously, this all brings up larger, more personal issues for me.  It hits close to home.  As a mama of a son with brown skin, it gives me deep concerns about his future.  (Read The Gospel Coalition's post from a black parent's perspective: Coming (Back) to America: My One Fear.  So powerful.)

What will become of Ferguson?  What lies in the future for my son?

Heaven help this white mama.

Heaven help us all.

"To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, do not refuse to hear me...hear the voice of my supplications, as I cry to you for help.. do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who are workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors, while mischief is in their hearts.  Repay them according to their work, and according to the evil of their deeds.  Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.  The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.  O save your people, and bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them forever."  Psalm 28


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