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On one hand I hate to add my voice to the cacophony that you are already hearing. Sometimes I’m afraid to speak, thinking that my words will seem pitiful in light of such great injustice. Other times I’m afraid to appear as though I intend to profit off of others’ suffering by turning it into blog fodder.
But on the other hand, God is teaching me something. And when he’s teaching me, I write about it here. That’s how this blog works. My transparency is my thank you gift to you, for being my readers.
Another black man’s life was cut short in a terrible act of racial injustice. And adding to the horror of it is that it happened at the hands of “peace officers,” representatives of the city, men who were given weapons and authority and were entrusted with promoting the peace and welfare of the city. I’m referring, of course, to the story of George Floyd, killed on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, MN.
But maybe I shouldn’t say “of course.” Give this a try right now: Type “black man killed” into your Google bar and the autofill will give you a list of different locations, as though it’s asking, “Which one do you mean?” This violence is not rare. Worse yet, try typing “black man killed by police” and see that the autofill list is just as long. Unfortunately, Floyd’s story is not uncommon. It’s not new. But it caught our attention because it was caught on tape.
No. No. No! This shouldn’t happen! Every human is entitled to dignity and fair treatment. Every life matters!
In fact many readers of my blog are pro-life. We march, run, raise funds, and run nonprofits to do whatever we can to stop that injustice against those tiny humans. But what about full-grown black humans? Can we do anything to help? Can we at least remember to care?
I Didn’t Understand, But I’m Learning
Sometimes I have thought, why don’t those men smile to the police officers? Why don’t they show them by their body language that they are cooperative, good people? Why don’t they explain? Why don’t they just submit to arrest and trust the justice process?
But I apologize. I’m listening now. I’m beginning to understand that my own background and experience have influenced me. My education, my childhood, my family life, and even the neighborhood I grew up in shaped and formed me. From that community I learned who to trust. I learned that the police protect me. But that’s not how it is for everyone.
I Know What It Feels Like to Feel Unsafe…
As a relatively small-in-stature woman, I am always watching out, keeping an eye on the people around me, and guaging my safety. I have learned to trust my gut and to protect myself.
One evening, on the 16th Street Mall in Denver, I came out of a restaurant with a friend and a man (a white man, for what it’s worth, since this post is about race) along with his friend eyed me up and down and smirked. It made me very uncomfortable. As I passed nervously by him, trying not to make eye contact lest I give him some wrong impression, he stepped toward me, and said, “Excuse me, can you tell me what time it is?” I spun around, stuck a finger in his face and said, with a guttural edge to my voice, “No!” He stood there stunned, and I turned around and walked away. I was proud of myself. No one would hurt me that day. Did I overreact? Maybe. But I needed to trust my gut. I often feel unsafe.
My brother once told me that he hates that women are afraid of him. He’s an average-sized white man with a deep voice who is kind and gentle and loving. He said that he hates that he has to slow down when he’s walking behind a woman so that she doesn’t get the impression that he’s trying to catch up to her. He hates being seen and yet not known, and not trusted.
That’s the heart-breaking dilemma of so many good, kind, gentle and loving black men who are seen and yet not known, and not trusted.
…But I Don’t Know What It Feels Like to Feel Unsafe At the Hands of An Authority Figure
Once in the span of two months I was pulled over three times. (You’re curious, aren’t you? Broken headlight, expired tags, and I don’t remember the third.) But each time, although I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach that you get when a cop pulls you over, I knew it would be alright. In fact, I knew the cop would like me. I would remind them of their mom, or daughter, or wife, or sister.
Reading the story of George Floyd, and the other stories that have come out about the injustices against black men, I am beginning to realize that they have the exact opposite feeling when a cop pulls them over. They think, “He’s going to assume I’m guilty. He’s going to assume I’m a threat.”
These fear-charged situations are volatile. More than I can even begin to grasp, it will require extreme self-control from both parties to keep the situation from escalating when emotions run that high.
And we’ve seen what can happen when it escalates. God help us.
This Problem Is Too Big. What Can We Do?
- Pray for our police officers to have wisdom and self-control in those volatile situations.
- Have honest conversations with our kids about our (and their) responsibility to stand against racial injustice.
- Pursue justice and kindness and stand against racial mistreatment in every opportunity given to us.
“Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die;
save them as they stagger to their death.
Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve.”
Proverbs 24:11-12 NLT
These Answers Feel Too Small
These answers feel too small, right? They are too small! This problem is way to big for my little 1-2-3 list to make a dent. Our world is so broken. Humanity is so lost. Lord, is there no real solution?
“For the creation was subjected to frustration…”
Romans 8:20 ESV
God knows that it hurts. This world doesn’t match his blueprint. His heart breaks over every injustice.
But, mercifully, that isn’t the end of the story. This brokenness is too big. We can’t fix it with the right Facebook memes or Instagram platitudes. Or blog posts. But God can bring healing through the Gospel of the Healer.
“[Jesus says] ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’”
Matthew 11:28 NIV
God will heal broken hearts through his loving sacrifice for all who believe.
We Are the Peace-Bearers
God is the only one who can heal this broken world. But he wants to use us, his people, to bring his healing into the world through word and deed.
“In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:19-20
Through the testimony of our love for our neighbors of every color. Through our testimony of compassionate listening. Through the testimony of our growth in understanding. Through our testimony of supporting action steps to hold our police officers accountable. Through our testimony of speaking up against injustice.
Through the testimony of God’s people he can heal broken hearts.
Our God Will Bring Justice
“You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.”
Justice is God’s invention. Christine Erickson, on a post for Shared Hope International, said, “God is just. It is part of His character, which means He is always just. He cannot be unjust, and He defines and sets the standard for justice.”
The beauty of this aspect of God’s character is that justice isn’t left to be served by our own human methods. God himself will serve justice on behalf of the oppressed. We present God’s heart of justice in word and deed to a broken world that needs to know; and ultimately God will enforce his justice.
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.”
Psalm 89:14 ESV
So please take heart, my friends. The pain you feel living in this world is right, because injustice is wrong. But our God of Peace will bring justice once and for all and make our world right again. In the meantime, take every opportunity to promote justice and be a testimony of God’s light in this dark world.