On the evening of June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof; an avowed white supremacist, entered the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., and sat for almost an hour in a Bible Class. At some point, he got up from his seat, began uttering racial slurs and proceeded to shoot and assassinate nine Black people in room! Among the dead was the pastor of the church, who also happened to have been a state senator. Some say that this was an attack against Christianity, but the shooter has admitted that his motivation was not religion, it was race and his intent was to start a race war!
But I would like to think that Dylann Roof has indeed started something, but it is something far removed from his original intent! I am reminded of what Joseph told his brothers when they stood before him as he administered food to them in Egypt: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good. . .” (Gen. 50:20 NKJ). I am praying to God that this event, which Dylann Roof perpetrated with the intent of starting a race war will indeed start a real racial dialogue that, in turn will stimulate a real revival! A revival of love that will supplant the smothering racial oppression that is yet alive and well in America today! There is evidence of the potential revival already apparent! The statements from the various families of the victims expressing forgiveness; that’s evidence of a potential revival! A renewed discussion about the removal of the Confederate flag from state buildings and state flags in the southern states; that is evidence of a potential revival!
Race is an issue that we don’t like to talk about in America today! Many would like to think that just because we have a Black President, all the major racial issues of the past have been resolved; but the fact of the matter is: they haven’t! In fact, I believe much of the opposition and criticisms weighted against President Obama are so, simply because he is Black! No other president has had to endure such ridiculously childish and unfounded opposition from Congress and others! We can pretend that it is simply politics if we want to; but the real truth is that many White Americans just can’t stomach a Black President! Even in 2015, the racial division in America is very much real!
Evidence that racial division is real was seen even in the apprehension and arrest of the Charleston shooter! He was not treated in a rough manner and was even reportedly given a hamburger from Burger King by a sheriff’s deputy when he said he was hungry! The bikers in Waco, TX, were seen sitting comfortably on the sidewalk with police standing casually nearby! But whenever there are Black suspects, police respond with riot gear and violence! When the police arrived at the scene of a pool party, they immediately zeroed in on the Black kids, chasing them down and treating them roughly while totally ignoring the White kids who were there! Oh yes! We STILL HAVE A RACE PROBLEM in America today! Do you honestly think if it had been a White church and a Black suspect, the police would have responded the same? Do you honestly think they would have given a Black suspect a hamburger? If you do, then you are part of the reason the racial issues have not been resolved! Issues that are denied and therefore not addressed can never be resolved!
But let me get back to my point! I didn’t write this article to vent my frustrations over the racial issues in America. I did write it to point out that the Charleston shooting has the potential of being the start of a real dialogue and an honest effort to deal with the elephant in the room that America wants to deny the existence of! In the Bible, death often preceded life. May the blood of the Charleston Nine, like the blood of Jesus, be a source of revival and new life! May the blood of Pastor Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Dr. Daniel L. Simmons, Ethel Lee Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Myra Thompson, Tywanza Sanders, Susie Jackson, and Depayne Middleton-Doctor cry out from the ground and remind all of us that we are indeed; our brother’s keeper and motivate us to make this country indeed a place of justice and racial equality! May their deaths indeed be the source of a revival of real racial brotherhood!
I remember years ago, whenever there was a major situation on board the command module of the Apollo space flights, the astronauts would always radio back to earth with this message: “Houston; we have a problem!” Well, in just the past couple of years, it’s been Trayvon Martin in Florida, Micheal Brown in Missouri, Eric Garner in New York, and now, Freddie Gray in Maryland, not to mention the countless others whose names I can’t recall and others who did not make the national headlines! It is fairly obvious to me that we have a problem! It is a systemic problem that springs from the core of America’s soul!
I was about to write a post about this when I came across this Facebook post from Benjamin Watson, who plays tight-end for the New Orleans Saints. I think Mr. Watson is right on with his assessment of the situation, so I’m going to let him speak for himself. The following is his Facebook post from April 29, 2015:
“We have major problems as a nation. Yesterday Ferguson burned. Tonight #Baltimore burns. Tomorrow it will be another city in our homeland. Watching the coverage I’m hearing yet another version of a nauseatingly familiar narrative. Violence by police reciprocated by violence by the community, reciprocated by violence by police reciprocated by…. It seems fruitless to continue to analyze, condemn, and respond to these dreadful episodes. “Frustration, anger, tension boiling over, upset and unfortunate” are words we hear from Baltimore residents. When it comes to law enforcement, race, poverty, education, immigration we always talk about fixing “broken” systems. We resolve to legislate for education, job creation, and systemic overhaul. These are helpful and definitely needed BUT we have done all of these things ad nauseum and look at us!! Without a change of heart these attempts fail us. So what can we say? What can we do? Systems are broken because people are broken and if systems are fixed without hearts being changed the result will be a legalistic attempt that will lack long term results. Our problems are wholistic and common to the human heart. Hatred, prejudice, exploitation, pride, self righteousness, secrecy, and rebellion, manifest itself in the explosions we’ve seen over the last year, the last century, and the last millennia.
Tonight I see so much entrenched pain without remedy. Most are handling it without violence while a few are committing the unacceptable.
Tonight I see young children, asking like my daughter did earlier, “What’s happening daddy”, in desperate need of parents to walk them through these disturbing scenes.
Tonight I see “smoke,” but we must address the fire. The response that we are watching is just “smoke” from years of hopelessness. After each situation the more I am convinced that the love of God for our fellow brothers and sisters who were created in His image, is our only hope for reconciliation. But the only way we can even see him that way is if God illuminates our view and changes our thought process. I’m not talking about holding hands and singing. Love is an action that compels one to treat another with dignity and respect even if they don’t deserve it. It pushes for education and opportunities for those in poverty. It gives identity and self worth. It administers justice without abuse. It honors authority and promotes peace. It is not weak, but strong for what is right!
Tonight I see a brokenness that only Christ can give us the wisdom and power to mend.
We pray for every disaster that happens to us. Bombings, natural disasters, cancer and outbreaks. What we’ve seen in our country lately deserves that same attention. Our attempts to fix this have fallen short.
We, and most importantly, the body of Christ, must stand for justice in all areas, for all people. We must set the standard for the correct way to treat people.
Tonight I pray for the pastors, leaders, police and community of Baltimore.
Tonight I #PrayForAmerica.”
Thank you Mr. Watson, for sharing your insightful analysis!
In view of the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri it is quite obvious that we have some serious racial problems in America! However, the problems are not just about race, they are also about economics, respect for authority, personal responsibility, and government abuse!
Let me first express my sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of Michael Brown. Losing a loved-one so suddenly in such a tragic manner is beyond my personal comprehension and experience. My prayers and thoughts are ever with that mother and father, along with the rest of the family. Having said that, let me get to the gist of my thoughts for this post.
First, I want to speak to my people; the Black people in America! No matter what has happened in the past, we’ve got to give up the victim mentality! Although White America must rightfully bear some to the blame, everything that goes awry in the Black community is not “the White man’s” fault! I understand the frustration when blatant injustices occur, but how does looting and burning our own neighborhoods fix the problem? It’s amazing to me that whenever something like this happens, people take advantage of it and use it as an excuse to loot, rob and steal! One really has nothing to do with the other! Burning a store and stealing a 60-inch television set has nothing to do with what happened to Michael Brown!
If we want “other” people to respect us, we must respect ourselves! We get all up in arms whenever a White person or the police kill a Black person! We rally and protest for justice but too often we are strangely quiet and dis-interested in the untold numbers of Blacks who are killed by other Blacks on a daily basis in our communities! What is it? Is a Black life only considered a loss and valuable when it is taken by a White person or by the police? Seriously! We have ran the Klu Klux Klan out of business! A couple of generations ago, a Black mother’s greatest fear was that of her son being killed by the Klan. Today her greatest fear is that her son will be killed by other Black men! We’ve got to draw the line and say: “Enough is enough!” The biggest problem in the Black community is not White folks! The biggest problem in the Black community is Black folks! We must respect ourselves! If we don’t want White people using the n-word in reference to us, then we must stop using it to refer to ourselves! It doesn’t matter what the color of the mouth that speaks it; it’s still a degrading, dehumanizing and disrespectful word! We must learn to protect and respect our women and children! We’ve got to change our values to that which is positive and productive instead of that which is negative and destructive. We can’t really blame other folks too much for looking at us with suspicion if we are routinely engaged in suspicious activity! In other words, it’s unrealistic to expect not to be treated like a thug if you routinely act, dress and talk like one! Our young ladies (and some of the old ones too!) need to understand that if you want to be treated like a lady, then you must act and dress like a lady! It doesn’t make sense to get upset when a man doesn’t respect you when you don’t respect yourself! You don’t have to “show everything” to get a (real) man! If all you got going for you is just a nice body, then sooner or later you won’t have much going for you at all! Parents, we’ve misplaced our values also! Too many of us are too concerned about our children looking good when they go to school instead of them getting an education when they get there! We routinely spend hundreds of dollars for a pair of sneakers, but see no value in investing in computers and educational software! We don’t show up for parent conferences, but yet we want to raise “unholy hell” at the suspension hearings!
But if we don’t respect ourselves, who will? Therefore, we should refuse to tolerate or financially support any rapper,and any other recording artist that produces material that degrades our women and children or any other aspect of our culture! They say they are just “keeping it real” by singing about what’s happening in the streets, but the narrative can be changed! Instead of rapping about what is and thereby perpetuating the status quo, why not rap about “what could be” or “what should be” and inspire others to make positive change? I can almost promise you that if we (the Black community and the buying public) would stop buying their music, the lyrics would change! After all, no matter how they tell us they are just keeping it real, it’s really all about the paper. (Cheese, cheddar, benjamins, money, or whatever the current lingo is)! If the negative, degrading and abusive music being produced today wasn’t selling, they wouldn’t be producing it!
Now, a word to my White brothers and sisters who might read this: Much of the rationale and reasoning of Black people in America might be perplexing to you, but some of the frustration experienced in the Black community is because of “White privilege.” You might not want to admit it, but you enjoy certain privileges and opportunities in America simply because you are White! For you, a BMW is a German luxury car, but for many Black people it is not a luxury at all, it is a “Black-Man-Working” a decent job! You are not routinely subjected to police suspicion simply because you drive a nice car. Therefore, you cannot understand what it’s like to be discriminated against because of the color of your skin because it doesn’t routinely happen to you! And although you may not contribute to the situation personally, you still reap the benefits from those who have gone on before you who did! Historically, there was much done to destroy the psyche of the Black man in America! Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that many White people in America didn’t think that Black people were even (whole) people! (If I remember my American History correctly, I think a Black man was considered three-fifths of a person!)
And now a word about Michael Brown. As of this post, no one knows what really happened on that fateful day in August when Mike Brown was killed. But the environment that produced the situation is well-known! Some say that he was shot by the police officer while he had his hands raised in surrender. If that was the case, there is really no excuse for the officer’s actions. Some have suggested that there was a physical confrontation in which Mr. Brown tried to take the officer’s gun. If that was the case, the officer was merely defending himself because he, no doubt feared for his own life. Perhaps the whole situation could have been avoided if Mr. Brown and his companion were walking on the side of the street instead of in the middle of it. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that walking in the middle of the street is a capital offense worthy of death, I’m just simply commenting on the fact that in many communities I know of today, young people routinely walk down the middle of the street in defiance, daring cars to hit them! That blatant disregard for authority and disrespect for others is often the fodder for such unfortunate confrontations!
Speaking of respect and regard for others, let me now deal with my last color. We’ve talked about Black (people), White (people) and the tragedy with (Michael) Brown, now let me introduce a possible solution with the color; Gold! The color Gold is for the “Golden Rule!” “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you!” If we all ascribed to the Gold, we would have a better world! Gold is the answer to the issues between the Black and the White! Adhering to the Gold could have quite possibly prevented the unfortunate incident that happened with Mr. Brown! If we would all seek to live by the Gold, many of our societal issues would be resolved! Of course, I am not so naive to think that everyone would do this, but if enough of us did, it would make a world of a difference! And even if no one else does it, if you do it, it would make a tremendous difference in your world!
No matter what the outcome of the Michael Brown case, all of us; Black and White should let what happened cause us to examine ourselves! It really doesn’t take much to fix the blame, but what we really need is to dedicate ourselves to fix the problem! Some claim that they know what to do! They say it is as simple as black and white! I don’t know about that, but I am sure there are some intriguing possibilities for a greater and better community if enough of us would seriously consider the Gold!