These are unprecedented times that we are living in.
Last week on Monday night (Memorial Day) my father in law called and I heard something from him that I have never heard before. I heard fear and uncertainty. I will spare his privacy by suffice it to say that I drove Alexis to Minneapolis St. Paul airport (the next morning) and she flew home to be with her father and may very well be there through my ordination after which I may just drive out and spend a couple of weeks with her.
I returned home and one of my fellow ordinands had texted me and asked what I thought about what had happened in Minneapolis? I had to admit…What happened in Minneapolis? I turned on the television and I watched in horror as George Floyd’s life ebbed away in the presence of Derek Chauvin and 3 other officers. Those we expect to protect and serve us. All of us, no exceptions!
Having been a Law Enforcement defensive tactics instructor for over 20 years I knew immediately what was missing in the video that I watched. Once someone is handcuffed and has stopped resisting, officers are trained to de-escalate. They stop applying force because it is no longer necessary or legal at that point. In the midst of all the hype and adrenaline the police are supposed to be professional enough to exercise restraint over their emotions, prejudices, or whatever is present in their world. They train for it. We expect them to do this and protect us. All of us, no exceptions!
Over the next few days Minneapolis began to escalate as did many of our cities and I understand that protests have spread around the world. As one person of color who I saw interviewed put it “We tried the non violent way that Dr. King preached and no one listened to us. Well can you hear us now?”
My entire life I feel like we have been returning to the racism question. As a child in the south I remember people of color being treated terribly, not because they had done anything wrong, but because their skin was a different color. They hadn’t done anything and already they had been judged because the melanin in their skin was different than others.
In 1980 while serving in the US Army at Ft. Riley Kansas we had a race riot that started because a black Sergeant who was serving beer at a company picnic had to refuse service to a white female enlisted member. This incident blew out of control, fights occurred and the entire battalion area was on lock down for 5 days because people could not be adult enough to admit that there were other issues at play. Instead it became a race issue and the Military Police had to establish control.
In my law enforcement career time and time again I witnessed disturbances between people that resulted because of a racial issue.
I find myself asking God for the answer to this problem and praying “How long oh Lord, how long.” For we are all God’s children and Jesus said “Love God and Love our neighbor as ourselves”. Our neighbors are all races and all peoples!
In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Famous speech he prays that one day his “four little children will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. Don’t we all hope and pray for this? Do any of us want to be judged by something we have no control over? Something that will follow us throughout our lives.
One of my friends this past week shared that he has always hated his skin color (he is black). He hates that no matter what he does he can’t ever seem to overcome it. He said “It doesn’t matter how nice I am to people. I still get glares in the mall, grocery store or just sitting at a stoplight with the windows up. I go out of my way to be kind, be respectful, be helpful, smile, be friendly, be courteous, be chivalrous and still I am dismissed or looked at sideways or given angry glares from people.”
I can’t even imagine how hard it is to be a person of color. My friend’s statement above hurts my heart.
This has to stop!
How long Oh Lord, how long?
I pray for peace in our nation and an end to this horrible racism that has existed for far too long! Amen