I don’t know what to say. That’s rare for me. However, as I sit here in my office and read the news stories and responses that are trending today I just don’t know how to respond. It seems like there is a new shooting and a new protest every day. It is 2016 and the racial tension in our nation is just as strong today as it has been since the day I was born. As a white man who also happens to be a Christian minister I honestly do not know how to respond. I am still processing things and I have asked some of my African-American friends how they feel so that I have a better understanding of the situation. The truth is that I really cannot know what they are experiencing. I confess that I do not know what to say or do. I do want to share the thing that is on my mind at this very moment.
I don’t get afraid if I see a police car pull up behind me, even if the lights are flashing. I might get upset with myself for doing something to get pulled but I don’t question the officer’s motivation. I was actually stopped once because my car matched the description of a vehicle that the police were looking for. I wasn’t scared when I was stopped. I was confused and a little irritated but I didn’t worry. Not once did I think I was in danger. Even when I have had interactions with officers who weren’t very pleasant I never feared for my life.
Let me tell you who I do worry about. My brother-in-law is from Ghana. When he speaks it is obvious that he isn’t from this country. His skin is much darker than mine. He is a fine Christian man and I am honored to call him my brother. He loves my sister and my two nieces and works hard to take care of them. I worry that something could happen to him. I promise you that racism is alive and well in eastern North Carolina.
I worry about many of my African-American friends. I don’t know what it feels like to be automatically labeled a “thug” because my skin is dark or I have dreads or I’m listening to hip-hop in my car. I have seen young black men accosted at a mall when they were doing nothing but standing around and talking. I don’t believe that most white people (or police officers) are racist but we cannot sit here and say that it doesn’t happen.
I don’t have the answer. I don’t have the solution. What I do believe is that we need to stand up and acknowledge that there is a problem. Unless we are willing to be honest and really hear those who are scared and are angry we will never move forward. We will never see unity.
Grace and peace