Amos 5:23 “Take away from Me the noise of your songs;
I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.
24 “But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
As some of you may have heard, a young African American male was killed at the hands of the Minneapolis Police over the weekend. Since that time, there has been steady protesting at the local precinct; demanding tapes and justice for Jamar.
There has been much racial discord along side on social media and other avenues. I wanted to take a moment and offer my perspective. I know in doing so, some of you may be offended. Others may be disinterested. Some may agree. But, here it goes.
I am a white man. Always have been. Always will be. I understand that along with my white-ness comes certain privileges. One of the more important privileges I’ve been given is the ability to remove myself from situations that make me uncomfortable.
I live in a community that is majority African American and poor. My wife is African American. Many of my friends are African American. Because of my heritage, I’ve been able to live with a mindset that if my environment becomes too uncomfortable, I have the ability to change it. I can leave any time I want. Many of my neighbors are not afforded the same luxury.
With that in mind, I want to address the current police/community relationship as I see it.
Much of the banter online following this event is along the lines of this: “This kid was a thug. He should know better. Everyone should get a job and go home. Just let the police do their work.”
At one point, the Black Lives Matters campaign requested more volunteers. Some replied that they should offer free chicken or watermelon to solicit more volunteers. This is the perspective of some in the white community: black youth are thugs, and they should be better than they are.
Many of us in the white community never stop to contemplate why things are the way they are. I don’t know enough history to list all the reasons, but I know what I see in my life. My parents parents were allowed to buy property when returning home from war, which allowed my parents to have a stable home life and pursue education. They in turn allowed me the same opportunities, and I’ve been blessed with a fun career and an amazing wife and children. I am blessed.
The African American community were not given the same rights by the federal government. In turn, they have not been able to acquire property leading to wealth and stability. Until a generation ago, they were not given the same access to education, housing, and a myriad of other things we just consider ‘our rights.’
Who is my neighbor?
I look at my blessings, and I see my neighbors in the African American community, many of whom are hurting and without hope. I have friends in this community who have had drugs planted on them by police, who have been pulled over and arrested for riding too nice of a bike, and thrown to the ground for no reason. And we wonder why this community doesn’t trust police?
None of the police patrolling this neighborhood live here. There are very few minority officers. I’ve heard them refer to my neighbors as animals, and shout at them to get away when they’ve shown concern for their family.
As a white man, I’ve never had to experience any of this. If I did experience even 1 of these instances in my life, I would feel anger, resentment, outrage and I would demand justice. Here’s the problem: who’s listening to our African American stories and demands for justice? Who is advocating for the poor? Who is standing up for righteousness?
If the police threw my brother to the ground and shot him in the back of the head, I would be horrified. This would not be justice. I would be horrified, grieved, and sick to my stomach; and that is exactly what happened here last weekend. These are my neighbors and I need to seek ways to help.
Remember the Good Samaritan?
The Samaritans were a despised people. However, Jesus shared a story of how there was an injured man on the side of a road. Many self righteous people passed by and avoided his pain. They had the ability to help, but probably made assumptions about his predicament and passed him by. They were afforded the privilege of turning the other way, just like me. Then the hated Samaritan came and provided for this mans healing. The Samaritan acted as a good neighbor.
We have brothers and sisters who are hurting. It is our responsibility to look at this, hear from our neighbors and cry with them. Don’t look the other way. Don’t wait for Peace to come and the problems to disappear. We’ve been committed a ministry of reconciliation. And he who is given a trust must prove faithful.
As a member of this community and the Body of Christ, it is my responsibility to help where I can. Of those in the African American community reading this: I’m sorry. I’d love to hear your story and I’d like to hear your heart.
Please pray for Minneapolis. As Amos 5 stated; God is not pleased when we ignore justice and mercy. I want my neighbors to be safe, but I also want justice in my community. Where there is no justice, there cannot be peace.
If you would like to post a comment or reply on how racism has affected you, or how you view the police [good or bad] I’d love to hear it! I know not all police everywhere are bad. But there has to be a better approach to policing in neighborhoods like mine. This isn’t working and it needs to change.