I've written and rewritten my thoughts about all of this. I've read more articles than I can count and had many discussions with those close to me. I wasn't sure how to articulate everything that I've been thinking and feeling these last few months. Hearing the latest news though has done me in and I can't be silent even if my words don't make sense. Because when I saw the officer was not indicted for choking Eric Garner to death, I was furious and felt like I was going to throw up. I haven't been able to sleep because I keep thinking about it so I decided to write. Every time I saw another article posted about it, every time I saw someone write #blacklivesmatter, every time I heard someone say "people are over reacting" or "we don't have a race issue", I want to throw up. I'm not going to claim I even know all the details about these particular cases or argue the particulars because this is SO MUCH MORE than that. This is about something bigger. This is about a system of injustice and oppression that has roots so deep people can live in ignorance to the issues because it's what they've always known. This is about the fact that there even needs to be a hashtag that says black lives matter. No one should have to campaign for that because everyone should know their lives matter. But in our society that's not the case.
I know this post won't do much in the grand scheme of things, but I cannot be silent about this. America does have a race issue. It's rooted in years of oppression that created unjust systems that are still in practice today. Systems that benefit those in power, those with the same skin color as me. It's not fair. It's not fair that I've never been pulled over for no reason at all while my black friends have been too often to even keep track of. It's not fair that my parents never had to talk to my brother about how to be polite and act around police officers for his own personal safety, but those are conversations every black man I know received from their parents. It's not justice that five times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites. It's not justice that there are countless examples of how white people get away with the same crimes that people of color get put away for, just look up the hashtags #crimingwhilewhite and #alivewhileblack. It's not justice that someone can be killed on video and they're treated like their life doesn't matter and that it does not even deserve a trial.
You better believe we still have a race issue. It's just getting exposed and national attention recently and for people who can't acknowledge that, live in ignorance. Ignorance to the fact that the color of your skin still does matter and injustice abounds in our world today. The fact that white people can ignore this issue or have the choice to tune it out attests to the privilege we have.
I believe that the world is not supposed to be this way and that there's hope for a better story, although it's hard to envision that better story these days it seems. But we know to hope for a story of justice and equality...that we can be a society where justice rolls down and every single human being's value and worth is known. But it starts with change...deep change.
For those of us that claim to follow Jesus, this matters. This matters because our brothers and sisters are hurting, mourning and have injustices laid upon them day after day. This matters because every person was made in the image of God and every single person's life matters. This matters because we are called to love each other and to enter into the pain of our neighbors. This matters because peace, justice and equality is not present and that is what we are supposed to be about. I pray that justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream because something has got to change.
I'm not saying anything new...so many others say things way better than I do, but with my little fraction of the interwebs I had to get it out there. Here are some others who say it better:
I highly recommend this video.
Here are some other articles to read:
And for one final thought.