When the news first came out about officer Dereck Chauvin pressing on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, I was stunned and then angry. As I watched the video and heard George cry out, “I can’t breathe!”, I turned away, in horror. Every time I thought of George’s ordeal, I cried. I cried for the loss of this man’s life. I cried for the horrible physical and mental anguish he endured. I cried for the senselessness of it all. Weeks later, I learned this man was a criminal and then, later, that it was all a setup by BLM. What matters is that a man died a horrible, senseless death.
It weighed on my heart and images of the arrest burned in my mind. Many white people were deeply affected by the arrest and subsequent death of George Floyd. One black woman said that they had been dealing with poice brutality, for years, and was puzzled why it should matter, now, to the white community. I was stunned but, after some reflection, I knew. When police shootings of black men were on the news, there were reasons given for the shooting that seemed reasonable but that the black community vehemently denied. I often did not see much of what happened on video, but this time was different. Whether the arrest had gone awry or not, the video that played, repeatedly, on the news created an avalanch of emotion that was to change the way police were allowed to arrest and a wave of sympathy for black people, in general.
I wanted to do my part. What could I do to make things better? My tears showed compassion but tears do not bring change. Neither does pulling down statues, burning buildings, shooting police, and innocent people. True change comes from a willingness to acknowledge what we are doing wrong and from a sincere desire to act differently. In thinking about this, the Lord gave me three reasons for racism: pride, hatred, and fear. I had always thought of racism as prejudice, an untrue vision or understanding of another person, based on the color of their skin. Now, I see it is far more than that. God revealed to me that pride in oneself can lead to disdain for others. This is not to be confused with healthy self-esteem. We need to feel good about ourselves in order to be productive and to feel good about others. But when we start to feel better than someone else because of our looks, intelligence, or place of residence, that pride becomes poison to ourselves and others. More importantly, pride ruins our relationship with God, himself. “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong. ” Psalm 5:5 The Apostle Paul said, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16
We are not all equal, in the eyes of society. Some of us are richer than others. Some are more talented or have more intelligence than others, but God looks on our hearts, not on outward appearances or our physical abilities. (1 Samuel 16:7) We are all equal, in value, in the eyes of God and so we need to value others, as ourselves. “And he made from one man (Adam) every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined alloted periods and boundaries of their dwelling place.” Acts 17:26
We are to treat others as we want to be treated, but we cannot do this if we hate or fear people different than ourselves. It may be easy to be polite to a stranger you have never met, but it may be difficult to be respectful to someone who has hurt you or looks like someone who has. I do not mean to minimize trauma, here. What I am referring to is when we group all people from a certain race as bad or perilous because they look similar to those we see who commit crimes. I recently read an article, written by a black man, which said he was afraid to walk in his, predominately, white neighborhood for fear people would think him dangerous. Another black man stated that an elderly woman almost fell off the sidewalk, trying to get away from him. What a horrible way to feel! Do you feel threatened when a black or hispanic man crosses your path?
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” Proverbs 10:12
So, our answer comes through love. Jesus said whoever does not love their brother or sister (meaning any fellow man), whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 1John 4:19-20 How can we love people we fear or do not know? We cannot love them through our own power. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit are we able to “love” them. We do this through fervent, humble prayer. We do this by not punishing innocent people of color (or whites) for the actions of others in their race. We do this by being kind to all people. We do this by reading his word, the Bible, to give us the discernment we need to stand up for what is right. Because, in the end, we will all have to give account of our actions. Romans 14:12. As Christians, we are called “to be the light” so that others will be drawn to us and, hopefully, to God. Matthew 5:16 With a world torn from sin and hate, we can choose to love, through God’s strength and grace for his glory and our redemption.