These past several days have been very difficult in processing the intense anger, hatred and misunderstanding surrounding us. Does the word justice even fit in our world?
Just weeks prior, I began to take up some severe heartache with those same things happening regarding COVID-19–people bickering about masks, rights, health, scams, the President–it’s seemingly endless, and I would consider myself a person to not be fully engaged in the media; that’s just what I pick up on from shuffling through the Internet highway on the way to my business social media platforms. I cannot imagine what’s swirling in the mind of someone who’s got the news and social media tickers and notifications on for hours at a time. Pow!
Now, these past days since the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota, at the hands of a white police officer, there have been many protests across the states in many major cities, calling for justice—not only Mr. Floyd’s death, but the continuing deaths and injustices that seem to come to black individuals.
On the information highway, I started to gather up tidbits of people screaming “all lives matter,” “now you’re a criminal,” “that’s not how you get heard,” to name a few. As I started to absorb these voices, I also started to again notice that sometimes they come from people who profess the name of Christ. I began to start envisioning the Wild West where people just shoot off the hip, only it has been a willy-nilly shooting of the mouth. And my guts have started to ache, and weep.
I have cried and cried and cried, praying and asking God to help me, to lead me to what He desires to come forth from me through this time.
One thing I discovered was that I was really agitated that someone who professes Christ is yet blind to the fact that continued years of oppression are likely not going to just go away. At some point, people can only take so much. As I stated to some others, I can remember some times in my life I’ve lost my head–I mean really lost it–over dumb stuff. Now take a person who who has been directly affected by years of battling in their life simply because they are black. Are you kidding me? That is losing your head material! In my “dumb stuff” over the years, I’ve punched people and walls, I’ve thrown things at people and walls, I’ve screamed horrible things at people and walls. How could I possibly pretend that someone at a breaking point should calmly accept what comes and keeps coming?
And that in no way justifies violence and looting, but there are often underlying reasons that impact outcomes. Think about the child who is constantly told s/he’s worthless, do you think that will have some outcome that won’t be ideal? Think about the person who has endured years of some sort of abuse, do you think that might cause some problems in some way? There’s simply so much we don’t understand in this life, but to come to the table and be so flippant in thinking “you shouldn’t break a window to make your point” is the end of the story–that just doesn’t rationalize in my brain. But God is faithful to teach me, yet again, to give grace and understand that although many know the words of “love God and love others,” they might not yet have penetrated our hard hearts.
Some white people continue to get offended by the term “white privilege.” If the hearer deems “white privilege” as an offensive term and shuts down their thinking, then there is so much work to do. As I’ve thought about this, I have been led to think about white privilege as compared to the sinner who gets offended when being told they are a sinner or are sinning. If their hearts are hard, there is no way they are going to hear and receive and respond to the fact that they indeed are a sinner.
Once we recognize that we are sinners, we are open to the message of the Gospel that indeed tells us our need for a savior which comes in the death, life and resurrection of Christ. Until we were able to hear our sin and know we are sinners, we could not receive our saving. We are born into sin which is already present.
Again, I think this is relatable to white privilege; those white are born into it and indeed its present. I have to recognize that I am pretty safe in most aspects of my life simply because I am white. I also have to recognize that I can easily turn my whiteness into a parade for myself, even in this. And LORD, I in no way want to be patronizing amidst the deep pains of my black Brothers and Sisters. But me, or any of us, thinking that just because we have black friends, acquaintances or family members, makes us an automatic ally or exempt from the privilege we have, we are horribly mistaken. Lord, forgive me! Lord forgive us!
So let us see that societally a person who is white will never know the pain, or be a part of violence endured by the experience of a black person. Let us recognize our white privilege that we may come to the table and be open to the message of how to be an ally in the fight for justice for black lives.
I feel I am able to write this today first because I spent the past few days praying and asking God to lead me. Secondly because I have been asking my black friends how they were doing and holding up. I asked them how I could help, how white people can help, how white Christians can help. None asked me to protest. None asked me to write a paper. None asked me to post social media messages. What they did say was “Thank you, keep doing what you are doing. Keep caring for your friends and people who hurt. Keep learning and dialoguing about ways to understand how to make your community stronger. Keep your promise to eradicate speech and injustices that negatively impact black people.”
And here’s a snippet straight from a young black woman I met today while we were waiting for our vehicles to be serviced, (which I note huge thank you to God for this divine appointment!) she said “Keep speaking up to the people that say ‘all lives matter’ because obviously all lives matter, but they are not seeing the specific plight of the black folks. Keep speaking out on social media to people that are haters, but don’t spend round and round with those who don’t hear.” (Wise!) She also shared that people spout ‘Why do we only hear about this when its white/black? You guys are always killing each other.” She said she tells her social media circles about various protests in cities where it’s black-on-black violence; noting that communities do not want to live in fear of young people shooting each other–they want to live in safe communities and go to college and live decent lives.
Friends, I’ve had some stuff purge over these past days and that again is usually when I write here. I don’t know how this blog will lay out, but I have various portions of my times in high-churning that come out in the form of poetry, writing, pictures and they are in no way all in a tidy keeping. Today I write, but I have some other things that have come out in the past few weeks that I’m waiting on direction for release. We’ll see where I’m led. Thanks be to God!
“Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments. “ Matthew 22:37-40
“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Luke 10: 36-37
“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” 1 John 1:8-10
“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” Isaiah 1:17