As published in Pasadena Now:
For the last, few days I have tried, as best I can, to reconcile the all too familiar mixture of sadness and outrage that I’m feeling at the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. This is not a rant against police as I have friends and family who are officers who I know to be good, hard working souls who honestly live by their oath to protect and serve each and every day. But for those, with evil in their hearts, who have other agendas, the system which is in place in this country has given those officers an often deadly mix of authority and protection under the law to carry out actions like those which killed George Floyd the other day.
Whether they were the one who had their knee on George Floyd’s throat or were the other officers who stood by in tacit compliance, the impact is the same. There is, by some, an overt lack of respect for the humanity of Black people as actual human beings deserving to be treated with the dignity given us by our Creator. And that disrespect is written into and protected by the system which exists in this nation to limit and suppress Black people to the outer fringes of society.
For review, this system has been in place since we were brought here against our will 400 years ago, put in shackles and forced, at no benefit to us, to build up a nation the forefathers stole from the native Americans. Simultaneously, we were forbidden to practice our faiths, speak our languages or exert the cultural expressions which defined us in our homelands, only to then subsequently have laws written stating that we were to be counted as three-fifths of a person. That and the litany of laws which followed all became methods by which to control how and who gets elected, i.e. who has the control. This all happened as we fought for the freedoms of our own people while, simultaneously, defending the freedoms of this nation in all of its wars. Despite our courage to defend this land, our brave souls would return home to a country in which we had no voice, no equity and no way out of the societal hole in the ground the system conveniently dug for us.
I implore my White friends to take, not just a moment, but some real, dedicated and focused time to look at how you’ve benefitted from a national system that enables you to live a full life, free of boundaries, then just do a cursory search of our nation’s history to see if Black people now have or have ever had those same liberties. And while you’re taking a moment, ask yourself if you’d trade places with anyone Black; whether it be me, LeBron James, Beyonce or George Floyd. Insert any Black person you know and honestly ask yourself if you’d willingly want to trade places with them. If your answer is no, then you just recognized that there’s an apparent inequity in the system in America. The onus is then on you as to what you do about it. Do you ignore it as it has no, real affect on you or do you recognize the deep, systemic imbalance and endeavor to seek more information as to how you can change it? I especially lean on my friends of faith to examine your hearts and your holy books in this context. How does your Creator direct you to respond to those who are either executing or receiving injustice?
This will never just “go away.” We can’t just wish it into the cornfield of life. With regard to race relations, America is simply not better off than it was years ago. The same system of suppression which existed in the Jim Crow era and throughout our history is still place – it just moved out of the neighborhood. The systematic racism that exists in this country is deep and broad and Black people simply cannot confront it alone as we aren’t the ones who created it. It needs our White brothers & sisters who most benefit from it to stand alongside us, see the toxicity of it, recognize how we’ve all been collectively poisoned by it and do the work to cleanse it out of our national pain body. Confront it everywhere it exists. Confront it in your worship services, in your stores, in your real estate showings, in your politics, in your relationships or the lack thereof with Black people. Open your eyes because it’s in every aspect of our lives.
This has to stop but we need your help if we want to believe that this country is that Beacon shining in the night. Then and only then can we live out the words in the Declaration Of Independence which states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness to breathe free.”
Black Americans demand and are endowed by our Creator to walk in this promise but we need your help. If we all aren’t free, then none of us are free. We must have the compassion and courage to collectively decide that doing the right thing carries more weight than the dense silence of maintaining “business as usual.” Robert Frost wrote, “Freedom lies in being bold.” I encourage you to be bold, stand with us and let us, together, unlock the shackles from our feet and remove the scales from our eyes and walk hand in hand towards the light of Justice.
Let’s talk about it. May God hold us especially close during this time.
May 29, 2020