Three days ago, in Baton Rouge Louisiana, a man who was selling CDs outside of a convenience store was subdued by two police officers. When one officer discovered (allegedly) the man possessed a firearm, the other opened fire. Alton Sterling died on the pavement.
He was black. The officers were not.
Two days ago, in St Paul Minnesota, a woman captured video of her boyfriend (Philando Castile) being fatally wounded by a police officer after a routine traffic stop. Philando is said to have informed the officer of the firearm he was carrying (legally) before the officer fired. Diamond Reynolds’s (Philando’s girlfriend) four-year-old daughter was in the backseat when the officer opened fire into the car, striking the man.
They were black. The officer was not.
Yesterday, during what started as a peaceful protest rally in Dallas, eleven police officers were shot and five were killed.
As a follower of Christ, I believe it is my mandate to mourn the loss of life, particularly when life is taken unjustly. All souls belong to God, regardless of race or socioeconomic status or career choice. It’s not my job to offer explanations as to why these events transpired. There is no explanation. Sons of God are meant to be peacemakers. And the Sermon on the Mount is clear, you cannot become a peacemaker until you learn to mourn.
Whether you believe that the media has created a false narrative of racism or you believe that racism is as prevalent today than ever — the fact remains: racism exists. It’s all around us in one form or another. If you’re white, ask any black person you know whether or not they feel marginalized in America.
A people group who purport stories to oppress and strike fear into another specific people group is still racism.
My whiteness does not excuse me from the problem of racism. If anything, I’m obligated to speak into it. I’m obligated by my love for my brothers and sisters. I’m obligated by my debt to Christ. And I’m obligated as a father to my son.
How do I explain to my little boy that racism still exists in America? How do I explain to him that his cousin, who is bi-racial, lives under a different set of rules than he does? How do I explain to him that it may be okay for him to use an airsoft gun in the park in a few years, but his cousin can’t? Or shouldn’t? Or maybe can, but the message he’s given by the media says if he does he may be shot for it?
How do I explain to the little boy who loves to stick his finger up his nose and to blow kisses to strangers, that all men are created equal is still just a theory?
I don’t know how. But when he’s old enough to comprehend it, I know I need to have the conversation. Not to explain racism, because there is no explanation worthy of the belittling of human life. I need to teach him how to mourn when any person, regardless of color, is treated unjustly. I need to teach him to mourn the institutions and destructive patterns that oppress others. I need to teach him to mourn that the Kingdom of God is still not fully present in America.
Because this is not a black issue or white issue.
This is a humanity issue.
This is a pro-life issue.
This is a Christ issue.
Lord, help us.
soli deo gloria