I've Avoided The Fight For Far Too Long
I am a white man. I always have been and I always will be. I'm not ashamed of it--its who I am. I am also unashamed to say that my life hasn't been "easy" either in comparison to many in my community, but that's all relative. Most people haven't had "easy" lives. Whether it is because of drugs, alcohol, crime, sickness, loss, tragedy, family struggle etc., most people have cause to make the claim that their life has not been easy. My heart goes out to them, it truly does.
Now imagine you take your already difficult, challenging, heart-breaking life and add to it a daily 24/7 covering of societal tension because of the color of your skin. Every day someone may look at you different, or call you a name, or give you an unfitting label, or clinch their purse, or neglect you, or question/doubt you, or harass you or make you feel less-than all because of the color of your skin pigmentation (which is a biological occurrence such as the color of your hair); as if your life wasn't already difficult enough.
Take a difficult personal life, add constant discrimination and then add on hundreds of years of people not taking it/you seriously as if what you feel and what you experience isn't real. How would that make you feel? It sounds pretty sucky.
Because I am a white man, have always been a white man and will always be a white man I cannot begin to relate to that life of mixed ingredients but I know that I have many brothers and sisters than can relate to that life and they've been trying to convince me, and many people that look like me, of this truth for decades. Some of us have listened, some of us have nodded in appearance to relate but without true acceptance and some of us have disregarded it telling them that it's all in their heads and if left ignored then it'll smooth itself out. "Because hey, I'm not racist!" does not mean it does not exist in others.
And then you see a white man, in broad daylight, place his weighted knee on a black man's bare, unprotected, unharmed, innocent neck and you suddenly realize the pain and the shock you feel is unlike anything you have ever really witnessed. Sure, you've seen bad things happen in your life; maybe you've witnessed a car accident, been in an operating room or even been to war, but the feeling you felt when you watched and heard this poor man gasp for air in between pleas for help was unlike anything you've ever seen before. At least, I hope it was.
For many in America this was the first time that they could personally witness everything we've been told for years--there is a real, tangible, palpable difference in how many blacks are treated in America versus how most whites are treated in America. That feeling of pain and shock and awe that filled your being when you watched this tragedy unfold is the exact feeling God felt as he watched on. The sad part is His heart has been breaking in regard to this cause for hundreds of years (or more) and even though He's been calling out for us to bring change for so many years we haven't listened until we saw with our own eyes. We could have listened to our black brothers and sisters and trusted in their word but instead it took a breathtaking video of a brutal murder for us to begin to change the way we think.
I praise God for this video. That is an odd sentence to write but I do. Because of that video we have conversations happening, hearts changing and perspectives shifting in a very real way. Praise God that He can use such a terrible thing and use it for His glory.
There is no person on this planet that is viewed as more important than the other. Whether race or creed, "legal or illegal", man or woman, adult or child--all are equal and loved by their Everlasting Creator.
My mind tells me to be angry that it took this long for people to wake up! My mind tells me to be even more angry that there will still be people out there that won't accept this reality and will continue to live in ignorance and delusion! These people will continue to try and argue and justify and debate and spew unhelpful, unholy and unacceptable rhetoric that pushes their unequal, selfish perspective that will still view certain people as less-than. But the Holy Spirit tempers my anger and reminds me that despite this significance loss and tragic situation there is good being done and many, many people who have had their hearts changed. Myself included.
This was only one instance that happened to be caught on camera. Imagine all the instances that have not been caught on camera. Not all of these instances are law enforcement related. In fact, I know that most race related situations are not related to law enforcement. This falls on all of us. This is not only a law enforcement issue. This is a human issue. This has happened all around us for years and words have gone unsaid among those with a white skin tone. These terrible things happen all the time, if not by a physical act then in the mind and Christ says that the things that we think in our hearts have matter and weight. We will be held accountable to this things when we face Him.
White or black. You make a difference. What you do makes a difference. What you say makes a difference. So act and speak.
Albert Tate, Pastor of Fellowship Monrovia here in California, posed the importance of being there for our brothers and sisters in Christ. He isn't reinventing the wheel here. He pulls this example from Christ who calls us to be there for one another and to mourn/grieve/cry/rejoice/celebrate and stand or even kneel with them. He reminds us that God's question to Cain was "Where is your brother?". God is asking us that same question. Be with your bothers and sisters even if you cannot relate because it matters. Even if you don't fully understand. Even if you have differing political beliefs. It matters to them and it matters to God.
I'm so thankful for the patience my brothers and sisters have had with me and I'm sorry that I haven't been able to wake up sooner. But I am with you now. Arm in arm, I am with you. I love you and I am no different than you.
Black lives matter. They've mattered all along but they've never truly been treated that way. That needs to change. If my life matters, if your life matters than their life matters.
Praise God for them, their patience, their fighting spirit, their courage and their grace.
Let's do this together. I will fight for you. I will stand with you. I will kneel with you.
In Jesus Name.