Warning: I’m talking about race.It may make you tense or bring up emotions. Also know (if you didn’t already) I’m white. I don’t understand everything I should. I will make mistakes. But I’m listening. I’m learning. Please have grace with me.
Over the past week after the murder of George Floyd, I've done a lot of seeking. I wanted to show my blank friends I care and have a greater understanding of the pain they are going through. I wanted to be part of the solution but I just wasn’t sure what that meant.
After many prayers, texts, and phone calls I distinctly heard God calling me to listen. And I have been. I recorded three of those listening conversations via Zoom. You can watch them here.
Each conversation (the recorded ones and the non-recorded ones) was distinct in and of itself but there were some commonalities that I want to share with you:
- My black friends are hurt. This came out more in personal conversation than the interviews. I can’t say that I fully understand their hurt because I’ve not walked in their shoes but I will attempt to describe my sense of this hurt as best as I can for the benefit of white readers. What I sense is a combination of grief, anger, and isolation. There is grief that the dream they and others once envisioned has been set back. There is anger at the injustice. And there is a sense of isolation in a country with the ideal of all people being created equal. These feelings don’t mean that there isn’t the possibility of hope or reconciliation. It doesn’t mean that non-black friends have not reached out to them. But there is pain in feeling that they are not valued. In my quest to find out what I can do, I felt this pain and realized that I should’ve done more before George Floyd died.
- Instead of looking for answers, we need to make sure we are asking the right question. For Rev. Dr. Theo Turman the right question is “What does love look like for you?” For Dr. Walter Fluker the right question is “What’s going on?” For Rev. Karen Webster-Parks the right question is “How can you uniquely offer hope?” If you ask the right questions from a good number of people you will find a path to ways you can respond.
- There is no “one size fits all” answer. When it comes to race, everyone is on a spectrum of bias. Some people are so extreme it is easy to define them as racist. Some people seem very open and inclusive but if you were to dig deeper you could see how they have not challenged the cultural norms that favor one race over others. The existence of this spectrum means we need a multi layered approach to seeking justice and reconciliation between blacks and whites in this country.
- This is a marathon. It takes time. And training. I need to keep listening. I need to keep learning. One day we will cross a finish line but until then we need to grow stronger and keep moving forward.
I cannot do justice to the issue of justice in one post. But I pray that my attempt will lead to a greater understanding.
Until Everyone Hears,
P.S. - My denomination is issuing a statement soon. If you are a clergy person in the NGUMC, please be on the look out for it. There are also several organized peaceful gatherings going on. Search "where is the protest in (your metro area) on Twitter if that is your thing. Also it is an election year. Ask the local candidates how they are advocating for change. Call or text your black friends. Listen to them.
"Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me so you can see
Oh, what’s going on
What’s going on
Yeah, what’s going on
Ah, what’s going on"