Sunday, July 10, 2016

Can we Support the Black Community and the Police at the Same Time?

Pin It Now!
Friday at the airport, I approached three police officers with a cracked voice and watery eyes and said, "Thank you for your service." They looked caught off guard. I continued, "Especially in light of everything that's been going on." It was all I could get out of my mouth as I was about to ugly cry. They said thank you and I quickly walked away (to suppress ugly cry) as my three kids awaited me wondering what I was doing.

On the plane, there was a black couple sitting in front of us with their cutie pie 6-month-old daughter. As I stood up to go to the restroom, I saw they were looking at professional photos of the two of them on her phone. "I'm sorry to intrude, but those are amazing. Beautiful couple." Then the woman asked me to give my opinion in which photo worked best for a "save the date" for their wedding. We went through the pics as I lurked over them from behind. I made my top pick.

Then I awkwardly transitioned into something to the effect of "With all that's been going on and the shootings...I just want you to know, I'm sorry. And I see you. And black lives matter. And of course, we know all lives matter, but right now I see your pain. And of course, cops are not bad and their murders in Dallas were awful and no one wants that. And I'm just sorry for the insensitivity of white people."

And they seemed caught off guard...kinda' like the police. I'm positive I was not eloquent and fumbled over my words. But I think they understood my heart and they sincerely thanked me. I got a bit choked up, but I was able to hold back the ugly cry so that was pretty neat. And of course, if you know me, I asked them about themselves and got some of their backstory - how they met, where they were from, etc.  And as we left baggage claim I went over and hugged them and said goodbye.

So there you go. That’s what my broken heart is telling me to do.

But this is not about me. I tell you this because I want you to know that grieving with your black friends for the injustices they have faced for centuries does not mean you don't support law enforcement.

You can grieve with your friends as they process the pain of another black man shot by police while you weep with police families as they cry out over the loss of their fellow officers.

You can ache for your black friend as she cries about the fear she has every time her husband leaves the house and you can hurt for your friend who has trouble sleeping at night because she fears every time her husband leaves for work, to serve and protect.

I stand with my black friends in their sorrow and in the pain they feel when they are marginalized and treated like their lives don't matter. How must that feel?

I stand with police officers who go out day after day to serve and protect, deal with a lot of crud, and have to make split second life-and-death decisions. How hard must that be?

I stand against police overreach and brutality.

I stand against those who would threaten and murder innocent police officers.

We all need to be for justice. There doesn’t need to be “sides". Supporting blacks in their struggle to be treated equally and supporting law enforcement are not mutually exclusive.

This is where I'm coming from, these word I love in Romans 12:15-16, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.”

Sadly, those words aren't true for many, which makes me ask:
How do we fix this?
How do we overhaul systematic racism?
How do we support law enforcement?
How do we insist on an end to policies and culture that encourage the mistreatment of black people?

Well, this part stresses me out a bit because I don’t know. These are huge, complicated questions. I have some ideas, but I'm not law enforcement (though I watch a lot of Blue Bloods) and clearly, I'm not black.

Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions:

1. If you are white, talk to your black friends. Don’t just read and watch some super conservative black people on TV or quote some far left black TV personality. Listen to your black friends' stories and experiences. Listen to their hearts. Tell them you are sorry for the racism they have experienced. Ask how you can help. If you don’t have any black friends, ask yourselves why. Now is a time to reach out. There are plenty of community meetings where the black community is engaging this conversation, find out where they are happening and go.

2. Do something to support your local law enforcement. Write them a note, have your kids make them cards, bring them some food, give them a gift card for them or one for their spouse. Thank them for the service. Tell them you are sorry for what they are going through. And you know that most of them are great cops, but they are now experiences the backlash of the bad ones. Let the words of Dallas police chief David Brown echo in your head, “We don’t feel much support on most days,” Brown said. “Let’s not make today most days.”

3. Search your own heart. Get on your knees and pray that God would soften your heart and open your eyes to your own biases. Be humble. Rapper Lecrae wrote a great article  “Humility is the Key to Understanding Race Relations.”

Step out of your comfort zone.
Ask questions of someone who is willing to talk about their experiences. If you can't do that, try taking racial bias inventory like this one.
A black friend has suggested reading something that exposes the black experience in America. 'Between the world and me' 'or The Souls of Black Folk' or 'Black like Me'.  I have not taken the inventory or read these books, but I plan to now.

And don’t just read and watch the negative stuff about law enforcement. Bad policing is not the norm. This video made me smile when I was crying about the hurts of the world today.

4. Pray! Pray for all law enforcement who are in the midst of this storm. Show them your love and support. Pray for them by name. Pray for black people who are broken, hurting, angry, deflated and tired.  Pray for them by name. Show them your love and support.

So there you have it - my heart on a page. Please don’t attack it. It’s a little too fragile at the moment.
Pin It Now!