“They Will Still Kill You”

Black Lives Matter Demonstration, July 2016, New York City, USA

The title comes from a tweet I saw from an African American man in response to the tragic murder of Ahmaud Arbery. It captures the tragic reality men and women of color face, weather its a traffic stop or a jog in your neighborhood, they’ll still kill you.

I want to preface with three things. First, I am a white man who will never fully be able to understand and empathize with the terror that African Americans face in this country. Secondly, I want to note that I am not writing this article to pat myself on the back by proclaiming that I am fully aware of all the racial injustices and am not one of the ignorant people. The truth is, I am ignorant. I was raised by parents who opposed racism, but the environment I grew up in, the country I grew up in, is threaded with systemic racism; and only recently have my eyes been starting to open up to this. Thirdly, I don’t know all the facts, however my heart breaks, not just for Ahmaud’s family, but also the families of the countless others who have experienced blatant racial violence, for mothers and fathers who’s sons have become another hashtag on social media.

My hope for this article is twofold, first is that of John Piper’s in his article, “Structural Racism, the Child of Structural Pride” and that is to reduce the instinctive, white, evangelical reaction against the idea of structural racism or systemic racism. Secondly, to provide my reflections on this topic, not as if I was an expert or am certain of all the facts, but as someone that has recently been learning more and more about the racial discrepancy in our world.

INJUSTICE

How often am I quick to stay silent on issues of injustice? This question hit me hard when I saw the video of Ahmaud being chased down and repeatedly shot, when I saw racism in its horrific form. I have experienced great shame for staying silent about issues of injustice, and since I am white it is difficult to see the perspective of a black man or women, because I do not face the same daily hurdles and obstacles that they do.

How quick do we dismiss the perspective of others just because our privilege has blinded our experiences, and our view of life and security?

The problem is there are too many people who brush off social injustice by simply saying “well protesting, or standing up for what is right won’t change anything” and I include myself in that statement. We stand on the stronghold of our privilege and use the excuse of powerlessness to prevent influence and change, to prevent the promotion of compassion and justice to the merciless. We must protect the dignity of EVERY image bearer, we must have hearts like Christ, hearts that are stirred with mercy for the vulnerable and justice for those who take advantage of them.

I’ll say this once. You cannot be a follower of Jesus Christ and a white supremist. A heart of mercy and compassion does not cohabitate with a heart consumed in white supremacy.

WHAT WILL OUR RESPONSE BE?

How will we respond? I don’t have a solution, but I have a hope that our response will be an outpouring of Jesus-like compassion, and a divine war cry of love.

Even as I write these things I feel helpless, how can I do anything to help? The reality is, radical change usually doesn’t happen by the sole efforts of one person, it takes collaboration and the influence of many people to make a difference.

Friends, it is those who raise their voices, those who cry out for justice that can create real change. The power of systemic racism that is backed by generations of ignorant structural pride and resistance to justice must end. We are the generation to unite people of all colors, to take proactive steps against the corrupted system that has trapped African Americans and other minority groups.

I hope and pray that we can stand with our African American brothers and sisters, and use our privilege as white men and women to make a difference and to demand change when the cries for justice from our African American brothers and sisters are being silenced.

An Assortment of Soul Cries from a Broken Man Struggling to Find Himself in the One Who Can Make All Things Whole.