Race relations have been a hot topic for debate this year. Black lives matter is countered with all lives matter. Being against police brutality is seen as being anti-police. Kneeling for the national anthem by NFL athletes in peaceful protest is argued to be against and ungrateful for our military. The list goes on.
Up until now, I’ve said/written/posted little to nothing about all this for two reasons.
1) Hashtag activism accomplishes nothing. Sure it can give you publicity points for being sympathetic for when bad things happen. However, if we are being honest, that is where it ends for most people.
We post #PrayFor___ (something bad that happened), and then do nothing. But still feel good about ourselves because we “raised awareness,” when really we have done nothing to help out.
2) I felt (and still do) unqualified as a white male to speak on this issue. I have never been pulled over by the police unjustifiably. I have never been frisked, questioned, or felt uncomfortable around police. I don’t have to worry about my daughter when she reaches driving age that something might unlawfully happen to her by police. I will never have to have “the talk” with any biological children Christina and I may have because they will all be white. I will not have to fear for their safety.
I have nothing to be afraid of.
But of the little I do know, I know that isn’t the case for everyone. As I have read, heard, and listened to the stories of my black brothers and sisters, I know this isn’t the case for you. You are scared for yourselves, your spouses, your kids, and your friends.
I also know that many white people (myself included) do not fully understand your circumstance. Many argue there is really no difference at all, and that “if you don’t break the law you won’t get harassed, simple as that.”
But it isn’t as simple as that. And if I could make a potentially unpopular statement to my white brothers and sisters about something I have noticed it would be this:
The only white people I know who do not see or understand that there is an issue and difference with how black people have been treated by police, are white people who either have no black friends, or have spent no time at all learning about this issue.
I don’t mean to be condescending, but rather honest about what I have witnessed. Which is why I am writing about this now. Just this morning I saw this play out in two contrasting ways.
First, I read this morning about at 17 year old black male who had his car stolen and thought it would be a good idea to call the police for help. He even had an app on his phone where he could track his vehicle at all times, so he could show the police where it was.
However when the police arrived, they immediately frisked him and ask him if he is on drugs. After he tries to show the cops where his car is on his app, but the cops don’t believe him and instead but him in the back of their squad car and take him to get his fingerprints.
After a long while they finally allow him to go get his car (which was exactly where the app said it was) and the window was broken in.
This would not have happened to a white male. I know this would not have happened to me.
And then almost immediately after reading that story, I see the post about how “all lives matter” where a white male commented that “that you won’t get harassed if you don’t break the law.”
That 17 year old black male did not break the law, and yet he was harassed, frisked, and taken in. And many in the black community are able to share personal stories that are similar to that.
I am also writing about this now because I have heard over and over the impact it would have for white men in prominent and powerful positions to at least mention that this issue exists.
Clearly I do not have a prominent or powerful position like athletes, celebrities, politicians, etc., do, but I am at least a white male. And I know the black community needs white allies in this fight.
So let me be clear, I am for the police. I know and believe that the majority of our law enforcement are good people that care for their communities, and I am thankful for all that they do. But I also know that right now, many in the black community are hurting and are (rightfully) afraid.
This is why I am comfortable in saying Black Lives Matter. Let me be honest again. This is not an endorsement on the Black Lives Matter organization as I do not agree with all of their policies and positions. But black lives have never been treated the same as white lives, and as a follower of Christ I cannot, must not, be ok with that.
Carl Lentz from Hillsong Church in New York City stated,
“At this church, we are not saying ‘all lives matter’ right now because this is a logical assumption that most reasonable people agree with. All lives are not at risk right now. We are saying black lives matter. Because, right now, black lives apparently are worth less on our streets. It’s ‘our fight’ not ‘their fight.’”
With that, I agree. This shouldn’t just be “your fight.” Black friends, please continue to teach me how I can help. I want to love and support you in any way that I can.