Before going to sleep a few nights ago, I did something I rarely do; I went on social media. Don’t get me wrong, I’m on social media frequently, I have just made the decision not do it right before I fall asleep. When I got on Facebook, a friend of mine from college posted a video of himself reacting to a video that he had watched that deeply disturbed him. My friend is a pastor in New York and he is black. At this point I had not seen the video of George Floyd nor had I heard the news reports. I immediately read multiple articles on the arrest and the following day I watched the video. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much that night.
Honestly, I don’t have words for how I felt. I just don’t. The best that I can do is to say that I was angry, sad and disgusted. It has taken me days to process and put words to it. I don’t normally suggest that people watch videos like these but if you are on the fence and think that people are making a big deal out of nothing, you should watch it. Not the quick one to two minute version either. You need to watch more than five minutes of it. Don’t turn away from it. This happened. Don’t forget that the crime he was being arrested for was a forged document.
The phrase “I can’t breathe” was uttered constantly through the ordeal and a crowd of people were begging the officer to take his knee off of his neck. He refused, even after Mr. Floyd went unconscious and was non responsive, he refused. This is not okay and we shouldn’t be silent about it.
Before I continue, I need you to understand something. I don’t have knee jerk reactions to situations like this. I read multiple articles from multiple sources from multiple angles. This is not “fake news” nor is it “the liberal news media” whipping me or other people into a frenzy. This happened in real time and it is not a sound byte from a political platform.
This IS about loving my neighbor as myself. This IS about the Gospel being good news for everyone, not just white people. My Savior was a middle eastern Jew with dark skin. I can’t imagine that He was okay with the abuse of those who are being discriminated against based solely on their race. I can’t. I won’t.
I am in a season of listening to and reading people of color and studying the history of racism in our country. I really believe that truly “hearing” this story and talking to people about this issue will help me become better informed and more compassionate as a pastor. I would encourage you to do the same if you have not already.
This knowledge coupled with a clear understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will only help me listen to the conversation and respond in compassion.
(I need to pause for just a second and let you know that I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for police officers and first responders. They have a tough job with very little thanks. Most police officers that I know are good people who joined the force for the right reasons. I love them and pray for them often. Unpause.)
Listening and understanding is vital during this time but I know that is not enough. There needs to be action and a partnership with my black brothers and sisters in Christ that accompanies that knowledge. I am working on that.
However, I do believe curing myself of my own ignorance and realizing the implications of “white privilege” is a start. In my lifetime there is no better time to do this than right now. Our divisiveness as a country and our inability to communicate over issues that really matter is out of control.
Racism is not a political issue. It is not a platform to get someone elected or not elected. We can have these conversations about the evils of racism independent of all of that garbage. Do not link the two together because they have nothing to do with each other. Yes, I realize that people use it to their advantage and use it as a political argument, please do not lecture me on that. I do understand that people have agendas and that promoting things from only one angle furthers that agenda. I get all of that but it cannot be an excuse for turning away from this.
I must confess, that there have been times that I have not spoken out against issues like this for fear of losing friends or receiving hateful comments about being “too liberal” and having assumptions made about my political leanings. This is not a good reason for being silent. I am ashamed and I repent.
However, it is time for us to put our collective foot down and separate politics from being a decent human being. It is time.
Now is the time for us to stop pretending that there is not a race problem in our country.
Now is the time we stop making excuses for not knowing about this problem.
Now is the time that we break the silence and speak out against what we are witnessing.
Now is the time that we let love lead us and not hatred and divisiveness.
The time is now.