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I normally don’t share stuff like this. It comes up in conversations in my head. But, I had a very difficult time falling to sleep last night. I kept replaying the images of Black men killed by Officer Friendly. I told myself I was going to have to have a renewed conversation with my son about all of this. The old conversation didn’t seem to fit anymore; not after an unarmed man outside of his disabled vehicle with his hands in the air was shot dead by Officer Friendly. I thought about the conversation I should have. I decided that I would encourage him to dial 911 as quickly as he could, say it was an emergency, and then to hit the ground as quickly as possible. Once he was on the ground, I would tell him to spread his legs, arms and fingers apart so that it is clear he is unarmed. I would then have him speak loudly but respectfully the understanding that he was in that position to assure Officer Friendly knew he posed no threat, had no weapon and was willing to comply from that position of complete surrender. I would encourage him to tell his friends to do the same thing.
The tears came in the midst of this simulated conversation, because – without a doubt – at the hands of Officer Friendly, even in that position, he could still be killed. I thought to myself that we have become a society of people who are so determined to hold the yard for whatever group we belong in, that we can’t even see the danger that holding the yard littered with skeletons, blood and evil brings to us. We are so consumed with being in power and taking back power – that we cannot see we are powerless. I will hold the yard for the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the NRA, the boys and girls in blue and demand rights and liberties, even as I crush the life out of someone; and even as I denounce someone else for doing the same. (By the way, the Kaepernick protest was NEVER about veterans or service to this country. It was just easier to divert attention away from what it is really about.)
Here is what I realize when I realized anew as I watched footage of this man, arms in the air, not running, not being violent, not being belligerent shot dead and I hope I can help someone whose holding the yard – anyhow. When things like this happen and you say, “we have to stop killing each other” or “what about Black on Black crime” you are being disrespectful to the concern for the argument at hand. There are other problems, but this one has an undertone that is increasingly disturbing and deflecting or ignoring will not make it go away. When things like this happened and you say, “well, maybe if he hadn’t”, “well, maybe if he did” – that equates to you telling the family member of a woman beaten to death by an abusive partner, “well, maybe if she used brown gravy and not sausage gravy, he wouldn’t have been so mad.” You see the fact that you can rationalize – well, maybe – means you were aware of the problem enough to form some ideas on what could save a life.
I normally don’t share this stuff like this. It comes up in conversations with friends. But, if you are a mother of a black male, you’ve had the nights I had last night where sleep never really came. I know my son thought I was crazy because I checked on him at least 6 times during the night. We have the same fear as families of Officer Friendly, that when he leaves the house – he may not come home alive. We pray for our sons. We pray for the officers – good and bad (honestly, especially the bad ones). We pray for this country.
My final fear or rant is that for those who profess to be Christians – like me – are not holding the right yard. We are holding the yard of celebrity, of entertainment, of reality shows, of bigger sanctuaries and more conferences. We are holding the yard of our connections, affiliations, political parties, social beliefs and racial dogma more fiercely than we are holding the very Bible and principles of Christendom we say we believe. In this midst of our blatant hypocrisy, we have no power. We have no power to cast out demons (figuratively or literally) that run rampant carrying out murderous agendas. We are so hell bent on holding the wrong yard that we can’t see the war we are losing. As a Christ follower, the responsibility to fight for, assist and war spiritually for every man is yours. That includes the Black men who break down on the side of the road and end up dead. That includes the young Black men in cities nowhere near your congregation who are killing each other. And when a movement or protest brings light to social unrest – it is an opportunity for you to move into healing from where you stand. Healing through painful, truthful and corrective conversations. The Bible says when those called by His name humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways then will heaven hear and the land will be healed.
I want our sons and daughters – law enforcement, military, athlete, entertainer, student, professional, playing kickball in the streets – to come home alive. That can’t happen until we acknowledge and accept this scenario to be true. If Black player leaves stadium and heads north at the same time White player leaves the same stadium and heads south – driving identical luxury vehicles, Black player to Officer Friendly will look like a “suspect” in a “possible” stolen vehicle and will be pulled over and detained for several minutes. If the Black security guard who happens to be a veteran leaves that same stadium at the same time heading east and is pulled over, and steps from his vehicle while reaching into his pocket for his wallet, while exclaiming that is what he is doing – he won’t make it to work at the next game – instead, tragically, he’ll be the new unarmed Black man killed by Officer Friendly. White player will be home in bed, snuggled in for the night – safe. This is our (meaning THIS COUNTRY’S not just Black people’s) truth.
This evil that walks amongst us will grow weary of its attack against Black men and move on to someone else. Then, it will be stronger. It will be bolder. It will be in the yard you hold so passionately. And it will be more vile and determined than the historical and contemporary incidents we have witnessed or recorded. I am not the only one that knows this. Yet, we still will not have humbled ourselves, turned from our wicked ways and mustered up enough power to send hell back to hell.