Nearly three months ago, Michael Brown was shot too many times, for a potentially minor offense. His body was left in the sweltering Missouri heat for four hours before being attended to. His family, friends and greater community have been mourning in the wake of this immense injustice.
We have an epidemic on our hands…where young people of color do not get the same entitlement to grow up and become. Where young people of color must be aware of prejudice and false assumptions, must work harder, must prove oneself, must be better. I have a 15 year old son. I think of his life, growing up white, with very little fear of those who are paid and commissioned to protect. My children, because of the pale color of their skin, will not know the need to be that much better and work that much harder.
My husband and I attended a rally at the State Capitol in Denver last night…National Day Against Police Brutality. Before Ferguson, before this pit in my stomach became a permanent fixture, I had no understanding of police brutality. I knew nothing of the fear people live in daily because of their skin tone. I knew nothing of the fact that police seem to have little to no accountability…they are accountable only to themselves. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t seem like the making of an effective business. We all need accountability..especially any of us who own power. After hearing stories last night from victims of police brutality in Colorado, I recognize the reality of the privilege my color (or lack thereof) affords my family and me. Hearing of police entering forcibly into homes, to kill a young man while family watched on; another young man, 19, African American, pulled from a car for a routine stop, requiring 45 stitches and broken bones, using the one phone call in jail to make sure his mother knew where he was. Local pastors who have been arrested for standing up for what is right. The question being asked, “How good do we have to be?” Good question. How good do our friends and neighbors of color have to be for us to pay attention? To believe they are worthy of the same rights and opportunities we white folks have by virtue of being born. For us to recognize our white privilege and stand in solidarity. How much are we going to ask of them?
One thing I am learning in my walk of faith is that the thing I must do is the one next thing…I cannot live in the future, wondering about this or that. I am required to do that which is in front of me. In the area of equality, whether we are discussing race, gender, sexuality, I must do the next thing. Educate myself by reading about the realities faced by our marginalized in America. It is so easy to snuggle in under my covers at night, to watch my shows, to hang with my people, to eat good food and drink beer…all of these things are gifts, gifts from God…yet, there is the balance. When it’s all about me, my comfort and rights, at the expense of another, there is something less sweet. I long to be engaged, to ask new and important questions, to educate my children in what is being revealed to me.
What is happening is not right. We are asked to participate in the life of Jesus…a life lived in justice, mercy and humility.