Updated: Oct 19
I'm sure that like me, you've been terribly troubled by the events of the past week. That the murder of George Floyd sparked peaceful protests is totally understandable. That some of those have turned violent and destructive has been deeply distressing. It seems that extremists on both sides have co-opted the protests for their own dark purposes. My fear is that the violence and rioting of recent days will soon overshadow the tragedy that sparked these protests in the first place. May we not forget that terrible tragedy of May 25th.
I am white. My dear friend is black. Because of my skin color, I grew up privileged. I never had to worry about how people felt about my skin color. For my friend, it’s been a different story. From big offenses to small slights, he lives with the daily awareness that people view him differently. Sensing that racism is on the rise, he worries about the kind of world his children are growing up in. Of course, he’s been reluctant to share this with me. He’s a humble man who doesn’t enjoy talking about himself. But as our friendship of trust has grown, he has slowly let me into his world and his experiences.
As a Jesus follower, my interest in matters of justice has grown over time. Recently, my oldest daughter gave me a newly released book, The Sun Does Shine. It’s the story of an African American man growing up in Alabama who experienced the sting of racism every day. Every day, after school, he began the hour-and-a-half walk home. Though he was big and athletic, he still felt the need to dive into the bushes whenever a car passed for fear of being attacked because of the color of his skin.
I have no idea what it’s like to be black -- to be judged by my skin color rather than my heart. I do believe this. If we assume that racism only lives in the South we make a great mistake. It is alive and well in my hometown. If you doubt me, ask any African American friend who lives in our area.
This week, the ugliness of racism was unmasked in the horrific killing of George Floyd. Like you, his death and the violence that has followed have troubled me greatly. I’ve been through a range of emotions from deep sadness, to anger, to helplessness. What can Christ followers do at such a time as this? First, we can bring our troubled hearts before our God who cares about what is happening in our land. I turned to Psalm 37.
Fret not yourself because of evildoers!
The entire Psalm is a prayer for the day in which we live.
We can pray for peace and reconciliation. We can opt for the courageous love of Jesus by calling out injustice. We are not people of violence, but neither are we a people of silence. When we see wrong, we should do something about it. Say something about it. Pray. Read. Listen. Educate ourselves. Listen to a friend of color. (They may not tell us, but many of our friends of color are hurting deeply over the events of the past week). That’s where I plan to start. It may not be much, but it’s a start, and I'll keep going from there.