My Condolences to the Loved Ones of our Recent Losses
This article is written in light of recent shootings including the deaths of Philando Castile, Alton B. Sterling, and of deeply cared for Dallas police officers, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, and Brent Thompson- who have been assigned to serve local American communities. All of these men were a group of fathers, husbands and sons to caring family members.
I send my heartfelt affections, words of comfort and mourning for these unacceptable deaths.
It is important that we take the time to grieve these losses and seek to understand those in pain from every angle. While doing so, it is also vital that we ask the strenuous questions needed to gain thorough healing to the racial wounding we are now experiencing.
Whether one believes these deaths are due to racism or simply another police altercation, it is important to understand why some African Americans may feel deep pain centered around subliminal systematic prejudices. If you have an interest in gaining a glimpse into this perspective then continue to read this article…
The Root of Racial Tensions
We are clearly in a moment of racial tension in our nation, but this is not a new tension. Many are calling it a new sort of racial “Civil War” but it does not have to be so. We are dealing with a buried cancerous seeping wound that we, many times, have chosen not to address because of discomfort. It is a hidden, covert vice that we have been bound to for hundreds of years.
This vice is being unveiled by the gracious hand of God. We are now seeing what was always there. And this is a step towards needed surgery, healing that can only come from the Greatest Surgeon’s hand, tenderly taking our wounded hearts, our stiffened minds and our confused souls into His alleviating, supple, lucid way.
“This is the way” He whispers to our longing ears, “walk in it.”
This is a test.
An open book test.
A test we have taken many times.
A test we have done well in and a test we have failed.
Are there underlining factors that we are avoiding facing?
All the more, it is a test we cannot pass until we are willing to study our past. And oh, what a past we must examine. The reality is that it is a shameful, difficult, painful, emotional past.
It is a past we would much rather cover up, hide away, and pretend like never happened.
But when we ignore it, this past of ours, the American people, we find ourselves in a worsened state.
The fact of the matter is the soul of America is now 240 years old and was established with some moral wrongs intertwined, in the deep rooted foundation of our nation. In 1619, we hosted a crew of Middle Passage slaves from the coast of Africa to the beloved colony, Jamestown, Virginia. This was 157 years before we established our separate identity and independence from Britain.
Democracy was established, it was birthed for all except the African slaves. They did not choose this New World and it was not a prosperous, sought after experience for the bound and shackled. It was more like a nightmare come to life, all was suddenly taken, they were forced into quarters with people so strange some thought they were living in the Underworld.
In the year 1776, July 4th of 1776 to be exact, we experienced the birthing of this nation. A few days past (in 2016) we celebrated this heroic day and rightfully so, but have we forgotten the plight of these people? It is hard. The stories are gut-wrenching. The truth is too difficult to face but the consequences of ignoring this bygone era has proven to be fatal.
We must understand that our olden days deeply affect us, they explain how we arrived to where we are and it is a beautiful story even with all it’s many ascensions and descensions.
The truth is too difficult to face by the consequences of ignoring this bygone era has proven to be fatal.
In many ways, we are all products of Mother America. America’s 240 year old soul has experienced a great deal of trauma. That trauma is affecting our ability to “get along” today but our lack of education around why these emotions are so strong, why we are facing such a “misunderstanding” is causing a great deal of suffering.
This must be rectified.
The Danger of Blaming the Victimized
Many would say that blacks have to take responsibility for their own actions, it’s been hundreds of years and they cannot pull the “race card” or bring up slavery in 2016.
Even blacks may feel they have to separate themselves from this painful past and move on in reconciliation.
But if we do this too quickly, as we have done in the past, we will never deal with the issue at hand. We will skim over it from both angles in an attempt to move on…
For many years, blacks have been expected to cross the line between forgiveness and self-hatred. Forgiveness is good. It is Biblical. It is necesssary. It is Christian. And it should never be done away with; yet we are provided with a boundary line.
We have to understand when our forgiveness, especially with a past of systematic victimization has become painfully abusive to the oppressed party involved.
For us, this is not a matter of forgiveness. This is a matter of not allowing our good to be spoken of as evil. We should not allow our good to be slandered.
Understanding The Historical Factor
We have to understand that when an entire people group has experienced dehumanization, when ex-slaves such as Sojourner Truth or Harriet Jacobs saw their masters as gods because they could not mentally process such abuse with a Sovereign God’s leadership of earthly matters…we do not need to place the blame on this people.
We are in need of healing. And this healing must occur from the place of empathy. We are in need of renewed confidence. We are in need of seeing ourselves as worth being treated in all aspects of life (emotional, spiritual, physical, civil) on the same playing ground.
Because we are human. We are your brothers and we are your sisters.
There are subliminal ways that we have yet to receive the basic rights given to someone of other privilege. And the color of one’s skin, rather than the content of their character, should never be the determining factor regarding how they are treated.
Responding to the Crisis in Love
There is a way to respond in humility, in love, in graciousness, and in the Spirit…removing the fleshly responses or violent ways we may have seen in others recently. There is a way to respond in gentle love yet resolved dedication to our rights.
And that is what we will do as the people of the United States of America.
We will take the time to understand the plight of our brothers. We will humbly repent without sympathy (feeling sorry for someone else’s trouble, grief or misfortune). Because sympathy is not true love. It is why many times we feel like others are belittling us, looking down on us poor African or African American peoples due to our lesser lot in life.
Rather, we are going to look to one another on level playing ground asking the hard questions, “What would it be like if my forefathers had to fight to be married? Fight to be considered a human? Fight to have basic rights such as voting, protecting their wives and children from sexual exploitation and walking into the same building as another? What would it be like if generations of people, my people, my forefathers had to rise above all of that mistreatment? What would it be like if I had to live in a world where my skin color alone caused others to talk down to me or treat me as if I “may be” a criminal? What would it be like if every time I tried to pastor or move into a neighborhood where I was the minority people whispered concerns or gave me strange looks all because I am different? What would that world be like?”
We as the American people need to ask these questions because if we don’t we will continue to see this cancerous disease begin to touch our own homes in some way, shape or form. We cannot continue to turn a deaf ear or blind eye. And yes, we must forgive. We must be non violent. We must be meek.
While finally talking about the eruptive 397 year old wound beneath the surface of our everyday lives.
So we the American people must rise to the decorum of the occasion with a heart of empathy (the feeling that you understand and share in another person’s experiences or emotions) if we want this disruption to finally be healed.
Written in Genuine Peace, Concern, and Prayer for all the lives of those we have lost at a time in history we so longed to celebrate the Foundation of Democracy and Freedom. Instead we were faced with an unwelcomed death toll. May our redemptive history be the story of our future.
Writer, Speaker and Indebted Descendant of our Beloved Harriet Tubman
9 July 2016