Most of y’all know that I typically present as a regular ol’ Conservative, suburban mom…I (albeit, begrudgingly) have voted a straight Republican ticket since I was 18, and consider the issues of being Pro-Life as the pinnacle decision maker in any political choice. I know a lot of people are posting in anger about the protests. People have had trips ruined, concerts cancelled, businesses damaged, and the fear that is running through the veins of this city is suddenly palpable to everyone (not just the folks who live here).
When Ferguson happened, I started out just like everyone I knew: The protestors are horrible people! They’re ridiculous! They should all be jailed!!! However, our church began working with other churches in a prayer tent in Ferguson, and the longer they were there, the more stories and truths began to come out.
The more time I have had to reflect on Ferguson, and on working in the city during the process…the more cases that have come out that raise the questions about police accountability…the more my heart has changed. I don’t stand where I stood when Mr. Brown died. Do I agree with every case that has been brought to the press with the accusations of police brutality or racism? No. No, I don’t.
The outcry is so great…the volume is so loud. How can we ignore the cry from the hearts of the African American community? We can say, “Well, just do what the nice police officer says, and no one will get hurt.”
Unless you’ve done nothing wrong. You instinctively want to plead your case.
Unless you’ve done something wrong. You instinctively do not want to get caught; is dying, worth it? Why is death the first option?
Unless you’re scared that your name may be the one on the protest banners as another person who fell under the banner of, “my life felt threatened.” How flexible is that reason? And where is the outside accountability? Who holds the police department accountable? Internal Affairs? Who monitors IA?
Never let it be thought that I do not support the police department and law enforcement—I 100% support the police. I believe you can support a cause but ask for reform. I support the Republican party, but look at that hot mess! I most DEFINITELY support reform for that cause! So, yeah—I support the police. I’ve been pulled over before, by a cop who was having a bad day, one time—it was 1 out of the 5-6 times I have been pulled over—but that little encounter was enough to make me not like the police in a particular part of town, and I know good and well that if another one of “those” copes pulls me over? I’m probably going to have a ‘tude. And that’s after just ONE encounter.
When he’s older, I can let my son walk down the sidewalk in my neighborhood—even in my redneck neighborhood—without fear of getting derailed by police.
There’s no derelict building in my subdivision that houses drug dealers and addicts. There’s no abandoned building that we’ve BEGGED the city to take down, where a man abducted a little girl from a bus stop, and raped her.
When my son gets his license, I most likely won’t have to worry about him getting pulled over and never coming home again.
When my son gets his CCW, he most likely won’t have to be afraid to tell a police officer that it’s in the car.
My son’s school doesn’t have a breakfast and a lunch program through the summer, because I can’t provide food for him year-round.
I have a good job, I received a decent education, and I had teachers in my community that helped me succeed. No one side-eyed me because I was “different,” or wrote me off when I struggled, because I didn’t look quite like them.
I don’t get funny looks when I walk into a high-dollar store in the mall (as long as I haven’t rolled up in my sweats and a ball cap, LOL—they do look at me, then). No one usually looks at me like I don’t belong there, or follows me around the store. Frankly, if they did, I’d confront them, and the situation would be sorted out, and I would leave the store in my own vehicle, on my own terms. Security most likely wouldn’t be called, police wouldn’t be called, and the drama would be over…for me.
During Ferguson, I learned about this concept called “white privilege.” What a crock, right? I mean, I worked hard for what I have. My mom worked her ass off, as have I—I grew up with a single mom, then a stepdad, and they worked hard every single day. We didn’t have a single thing handed to us…however…
I received scholarships based on academic performance, talent, and interviews. I’ve received job offers based on face-to-face interviews. Things weren’t made particularly easy for me, but I’m learning that the simple fact that the opportunities were made available, is a form of privilege. I’ve never felt racially oppressed or profiled—that’s a form of privilege. Have I felt discriminated against? As a woman, yes. As a white woman in particular, no. My race has never once played into any feeling of oppression, hostility, etc. Not. Once.
I don’t know how that feels.
So how can I say that I can’t understand or empathize with those that do? How can I discount their cries for justice, when I have never felt their INJUSTICE? How can I brush them off, because I don’t see, or don’t know what they’re talking about?
Jesus tells us to love. He tells us to listen with “gentleness and respect” (I Pet. 3:15). He tells us to have compassion, and to let our hearts break with what breaks His heart. I promise you, His heart breaks over racism.
He grieves for St. Louis, right now.
He grieves for the police who are being treated terribly right now…for those brave men and women who are dealing with the worst kinds of disrespect. He grieves for their families. He grieves for the African American community and their anger, for the injustices they have suffered throughout history, and for the children who are seeing this behavior as part of the “new normal.” He GRIEVES for the civil destruction and for the hearts that are being hardened by the fear that cloaks this city.
Our inconvenience—our ruined trips, cancelled concerts, blocked streets—are NOTHING compared to the hurting hearts of every person that is out there right now.
As a white chick, what in the world can I do? My own family disagrees with my positions on this issue, and that’s okay—they deal with things in their own ways, and God will work within them, if they listen.
I can listen.
I can tell my African-American friends that I do not discount their pain because of the things that inconvenience me.
I can stand for peace and discourse, over destruction and violence.
I can stand for compassion.
I can love.
And that’s where I am.
Do I understand where they’re coming from? Nope. I’m white. That’s an automatic, “no, you just don’t understand,” regardless of the environment or place you grew up. You’re white. Stop playing.
I don’t have to understand in order to have compassion.
I don’t have to understand, to show love.
I don’t have to understand, to be like Jesus.