No one should have to worry about getting shot and killed because of a non-violent crime (especially traffic violations).
That I’ve never ever worried my life was in danger when I’ve been pulled over, and others do, speaks of “white privilege.” It’s only reality for some of us to recognize we don’t face the same obstacles as some of our brothers and sisters around us.
However, to feel “white guilt” is not healthy either. It’s not wrong that a ticket is your greatest fear during a traffic stop. We should not long for their danger to be applied to all of us. We should long for others to experience our safety. Our desire should be for justice. Our hearts should long for any person of any color to be treated justly and as an image bearer of God.
It’s OK to feel helpless in these situations. Many of these stories happen in cities far from us. The problems are personal, but also systemic and governmental. It’s complicated. I think it’s one reason it’s so visible on social media…it feels like the only thing we can do is speak up. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed by that too. Quite honestly, we can’t all be expected to post, comment and crusade about every injustice that happens around our world. (Not sure social media really accomplishes anything anyway.) But to those I know, love and especially those I shepherd at Greenville Grace, I suggest the following:
- Don’t complicate the problem. This is not the time to debate affirmative action, mainstream media hype or even protest movements. We’ve seen evidence recently of people being killed for non-violent crime, and the color of the skin seems to be a major factor. This should cause us to weep and be frustrated.
- Pray. Our government is a mess. The solutions were never there anyway. Ultimate justice does come through our Savior, however. Pray that the church would best display His character and love and display His gospel. Pray that sins of hate and discrimination would be defeated from the inside-out. And it’s also right to pray that Jesus would come back soon! Our Bibles end with that prayer! (Revelation 22:20-21)
- Repent. If apathy or even blame-shifting was a response before mourning, you should confess that to the Lord. If you’re tempted to deny injustice simply because it doesn’t affect you, pray that God will give you eyes to see the pain sin has caused in this world. Compassion is never a vice.
- Respect. Romans 13 reminds us that the government was given the sword by God. A police man isn’t evil because he’s a police officer. You should still show compassion and respect to law officers, soldiers and governmental officials around us. They aren’t the enemy (Ephesians 6:12). I can’t imagine the stress level officers face as they daily enter genuinely dangerous situations. Be thankful that they are willing to serve, and do all you can to make their service easier.
- Read up. Two great, gospel-focused authors I would recommend are Thabiti Anybwile and Benjamin Watson (yes, even though he’s now a Baltimore Raven, he still has good things to say). Their writing is accessible, remains focused on the problem of sin and solution found in Christ, but will also tell you stories and give accounts that remind you that injustices based on skin tone are still very real in our country. You can grab their books or even just read posts of theirs on the internet.
- Reach out. Ever approached a stranger who was a veteran or soldier in uniform and thank them for their service? Perhaps you haven’t done that for every single one, but sometimes during holidays, or just at a certain moment you feel compelled to reach out and care for a stranger. Why can’t we do the same for those who may not look like us? (This isn’t even just about ethnicity. Perhaps it’s someone who dresses or simply looks to be a part of a different subculture than you.) Simply say, “hi,” and seek to engage them in a conversation. Perhaps it will go a long way for them to simply know you care. Even better, perhaps it will create an opportunity for the gospel!
These are just a few of my initial thoughts. I don’t claim to have expertise on any of this. But like the song we’ve all sang since childhood, “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” May we proclaim this, and may more people come to know this!