Dear Christian brothers and sisters,Where do I start so that you can hear my heart? If we are a family made by Yahweh, it should be simple answer right?
- So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Gen 1:27 (Complimentary creation)
Yet, because you can see my skin color I have to start somewhere else I suppose.
- My first interaction with a gun came from a police officer when I was around 40 weeks inside my mom's pregnant womb. He had a gun pointed at me, and this was the impetus for my mom to follow his order. My mom, and I certainly, wasn't at fault but when your dad acts against the law there is consequence on the whole family.
- The gun in the holster of the policeman who was called out for my runaway call, but checked my back for bruising, and allowed me comfort to stay the night at a friends house instead of going right back home.
- The 4th of July when I was 16 years old I spent watching movies all day, until my face was green, after escaping our house with my mom at gunpoint from my step-dad.
- The gun in the house when I was 17, when I left my little brother in a locked room while I jumped the fence to call for the police to help.
- The possibility of a gunshot (so you move behind a couple of walls to help stop the bullets) with the arguments heard in the broken apartment complex I rented as I put myself through community college.
In case you need to know more of my presuppositions:
In the last few years, my husband and I have BOTH been pulled over at gunpoint due to someone else's crime. I shoved my hands against the window and complied with every word. My husband was similar, but had to throw his keys out of his car, was taken out, handcuffed and placed in the backseat of the police car until his was cleared up. This strangely wasn't the only time he was held at gunpoint either. When he was younger, his friends accidentally knocked out a window in the church and rather than leave shattered glass dangling, he climbed up to take the shards out. This caused a break-in call to the police and my husband's face in an oil stain on the parking lot at gunpoint. (He has other non-gun-in-the-face stories too- interesting guy.)
My husband is also a firefighter. He wears a bullet proof vest. There is sad reason why a firefighter has to wear a bulletproof vest. Know that every time he is not home, or I don't hear from him, within an hour of being off shift, my heart sinks and I am putting on the news. Know that what you see on the news is a very minute percentage of the daily tragedy in our world.
Can you relate to me now?
What if I tell you how prison and jail relate to me?
Have I transcended your presuppositions of me and my skin color?
Can we be in space together to grieve yet?
SESAME STREET WON, OR SO I THOUGHT
I am a west coast child of the 80's & 90's, watched Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, TGIF, had babysitters in love with Prince (and being with a single/working mom I spent some time with babysitters), danced to Kid n Play, played "Parents just don't understand" on repeat, saw the east coast/west coast hip hop scene play out, and sang "We Are the World" while holding "Hands Across America". I never saw myself as anything but included in the broad sense- this is my history. Now, being an optimist, I am still shocked every time I see separation. I mean, didn't they also watch Sesame Street? Kansas City and Chicago, visiting these places made me frustrated and sad.
Yeah, but my stories are trivial in comparison to real desperate hopelessness of some in worse areas. I may have had strife, but my family had work- even if we had to move every school year growing up (sometimes twice in a year). What if there's no work? What if the entire family, and friends, and neighborhood are so riddled with crime and drugs and poverty, and this has happened from one generation to the next? Where is the hope?
BUT NOW WHAT'S WORSE?
What is worse is the perpetuation of hopelessness. The opposite of a 1 Peter 1:3- living hope. The opposite of a Romans 5:5- hope that does not put you to shame. The opposite of a Jeremiah 29:11 that promises hope. The opposite of Hopelessness is death. Watch this. I was brought to anger and heartbreak and tears by this child and town's hopelessness.
WHERE ARE THE TRUTH TELLERS?
Christians, where are the truth tellers?
I know that deep hurts can last generations. A few months back I spent 30 minutes with an elderly lady who came here as a young girl when her mom fled her country in wartime. During a time when the soldiers of Japan were raping women. She told me about those accepted atrocities and the philosophy of Japan in comparison to the philosophy of Germany, and how the philosophical differences between the two countries left her in a place of forgiveness of one, and mistrust of another. 30 minutes. With a complete stranger. Hurt is a lasting legacy if not covered over with hope.
Christians, where are the truth tellers?
- Why are we okay with this child and this town and our country dividing itself? Why are we okay with letting him believe he has to graffiti or loot or riot to be heard? Do you hear his hopelessness?
- Why are we okay perpetuating that Trayvon was killed by a white guy for no reason and got away with it because of a corrupt society against black kids? Where does that leave this child?
- Why are we okay letting him believe that Michael Brown was shot with his hands up, in an execution style murder for walking in the street and being black? Who is guiding that narrative? How has that guided his narrative- where is the hope in him trying if this is where we have left him?
- Why are we okay with posts that express our grief over being racially targeted and at the same time lay guilt on a man of murder with no due process?
- Why are we okay with posts that express ignorance in teaching our kids social normative behaviors? Do you want to be the parent that is saying- I never thought...? Is that a Job response or one of his friends?
- Why are we okay with posts that express ignorance on law enforcement or forensics?
- Why are we okay with calling our brothers and sisters "unable to understanders" because of our skin color? Or probably worse- because of their Uncle Tom-ness?
- I haven't seen any, but I'm sure they're out there-Why are we okay saying someone "got what they deserved"?
Where are the people saying-
- We comply with the police because of the sin in this world. (Blogs saying "I'm tired of being pulled over, so I resist." Is not the answer here. Please gain some civil servant friends so you understand better.)
- If we run into what we think is corruption, we heap hot coals of ever-loving kindness on them.
Does not sharing an article which displays one of the hopelessnesses I have mentioned make me lose empathy to another child lost? There is reason my husband leaves his work at work. Our world is terribly broken.
LOOK AT THE NUMBERS in that link
What are the dangers of stopping this video after you hear the difference of white america vs. black america? You don't hear the part of the video where having Married Parents, or going to College is equivalent to an "Opportunity Utopia". (Married parents. Interesting stat.) So, if you are basing your arguments with "privileges", and asking me to check mine, should we pull out this number sheet and compare beginning quintiles, or compare our given factors of social mobility? Will that place us in equal space to grieve then? Christian, is that the area we are told to meet in?
What if you pull out a quantitative statistic without the qualitative background to it? It might sound impressive, but can that statistic be broadly used? No! But, it's the good start of a different conversation.
AND THAT'S THE REAL ISSUE.
We are talking side by side, not together. We both want the same Micah 6:8 conversation, but we can't meet in a space with each other that takes sides. I want to share my grief that I too feel my son or brother or I could be one wrong decision away from a life-long mistake. I want to share my grief that- up against sin, up against bottom quintiles, up against hurt- life is a struggle. But more than anything Christian I want to share Christ. Don't you? If so, then post that. Post the life giving, hope filled, breath of fresh air, and living water into this child, into this town, and into our own church body. Don't just post- go, speak, do. Don't let our side by side talking separate us. Don't let perceived special suffering allow you to think you're alone...
LEFT IN A POOL OF BLOOD.
When you leave the conversation on the table of anything but truth you allow space for hopelessness to settle in and root down. One of the cries was that Michael Brown's body lay at the scene for hours. (I am not a crime scene specialist, but I do know my husband can get stuck on scene for hours sometimes, and that's just the fire side.) Let's lay the details of analysis needed aside, and place ourselves in that community. Not understanding how a scene is worked, or why he had to lay there, imagine hearing the wails of a grieving mother. Imagine knowing your son is friends with him. What hope is there looking on him left there? Christian, when you purpose your messages with anything but the gospel you are leaving your brothers and sisters lying in a pool of Christ's blood at the cross, rather than pointing them to the road at Emmaus. Be a truth teller. It has the power to change narratives.