Thursday, July 7, 2016

Close to Home

If you have read my blog posts over the years, you know that I have written about race several times (MLK, institutional racism, my own family, Trayvon Martin's death, and probably some I've forgotten about. I've been outraged by the deaths of many young Black men, the lack of punishment for their killers, and the institutional racism that causes these deaths.

Today, it got personal. I woke to the outrage on social media regarding Philando Castile's murder. I commented forcefully on a woman's reaction which totally negated the concern of a woman worrying about her Black son. I prayed for the families of the deceased men (Yesterday Alton Sterling was shot to death in Louisiana.), and I prayed for the police officers who shot them. These are my normal responses to this kind of news...

And then my phone rang.

It was my (Black) 29-year-old daughter. She was so distraught I couldn't understand her. After some time, I realized she was talking about Philando Castile and his girlfriend and baby: They are my daughter's friends.

My sweet, intelligent, capable daughter was sobbing over the senseless loss of her friend. She was terrified to be driving. She was afraid that her brother (also Black) would be killed by the police. My baby was shaken. And this mama bear was MAD.

MAD at a world which allows such injustice. MAD at White people who abase the concerns of Black people. MAD at a society which accepts that Black men are dangerous. Just plain MAD.

My nine-year-old daughter asked what I was upset about and got an earful. We've talked about these issues before, and she understands the concepts of White Privilege and institutional racism. She was mad too, but then she said, "Mom, do you remember Betsie ten Boom in The Hiding Place?"


She went on, "I think we need to pray for the people who believe that Black men are dangerous. We need to pray that God will work in their hearts, just like Betsie prayed for the Nazis." And she went on to lead a prayer for us.

Led by a babe.

My anger has been laid at the foot of the cross. By experience I know that it will return, and I will have to lay the burden down again and again.

This does not mean that I am at peace with the status quo. I am not. I will not be content with the situation until Black men and women can trust they will live through a traffic stop. I will not stop speaking out until my White friends and family understand that institutional racism is endemic in our society.

Christians, please open your hearts to the possibility that White privilege is real, that Black lives DO matter, that the oppression isn't imagined. And pray.

Pray for the victims and their families.

Pray for the police officers and their families.

Pray for those who are angered by the idea that racism still exists.

Pray for our Black children's and young adults' safety.

Pray. Try to understand. Speak up. Listen.


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