Stupid Slogans with no Solutions...
All agree...there is a problem, but we disagree on what the problem is. Violence and tension toward and from more people as we face a problem that has plagued our nation since its roots; apathy and blind ethnocentric aggression. We face a pivotal point in America. Many thought civil rights for all people of every nation was won during the time of Martin Luther King Jr. but have neglected to see that while laws may have changed, hearts have not. While the lynch mobs, slave trades, and the right to breathe certain air is not as prevalent as points in American history, the current hatred shown by a lack of sympathy born from an apathetic heart that readily wants to forget that the foundations of American infrastructure and economy was built on the backs of the Black community. So I write this Blog to address the current problem, the subsequent responses to the outcries of the #BlackLivesMatter community, provide some history to show how we got to this point and how it's yet another chance for the Church to bring the Gospel, rightly, into our situation.
Where Are We?! How did we get here?! Some people feel that this #BlackLIvesMatter movement happened in a vacuum, and find no just cause for the outcry from the Black community, and, frankly, find themselves annoyed by it being brought up so often. The annoyance, though, shouldn't be at how often #BlackLivesMatter gets brought up, rather, the REASON why it's being brought up. It arises when black men, many unarmed (1 out of every 3 African Americans who have lost their life to a Police Officer were unarmed) have lost their life to excessive and lethal force, but many don't even hear its peep when they are racially profiled, or when they receive elevated judicial sentences comparatively. Now the week of July 4th, 2016 comes upon America as many celebrate their freedom from oppression, two Black men have lost their lives at the hands of Law Enforcement Officers. From watching the videos of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I believe one can simply deduce that neither just cause, nor imminent life threatening danger, were applicable in the video's and statements from those who have currently spoken to the events confirm this statement. (recognizing I don't currently have all the facts and if extenuating and verifiable proof of an actual life threatening situation for the Police is proven, I am willing to retract). Alton Sterling's hands were pinned down, and his weapon still covered in his pocket at the time a Police Officer declared "He has a gun!" while responding to an anonymous phone call about a guy waiving a gun around and then receiving multiple shots to his chest, leading to his death. And Philado Castile, with his girlfriend and child in the car, being pulled over, is asked to retrieve his license and registration, and in doing so, at some point Philando declares he is a Concealed Weapons Permit holder with a concealed weapon, and while reaching for his license in his back pocket, received four shots to the chest and then his girlfriend is detained directly after.(A new story has risen saying that he was a suspect in an armed robbery, but we will never know now because he received a death penalty, therefore it's assumption and accusatory with no verifiable facts nor life threatening situation). Turning to Dallas, we now started seeing protests and riots arise as well as heinous acts brought against law abiding Law Enforcement Officers in retaliation for the lives lost. 11 Police were shot, and mournfully, five were murdered. May God bring Justice on all the hands that shed innocent blood...either on the evil doer or on the Cross of Christ!
#BlackLivesMatter had its genesis in July of 2013, centered around the murder of Trayvon Martin (who was followed/hunted and shot by a man who called *911 and stated he just looked suspicious after buying his sweet tea from 7-11), to expressly declare the prejudices, racial profiling, inequality, injustices vividly seen, yet so quickly brushed to the side by apathy. It was a cry for help. When you cry for help and have no where to go, you turn to the police who are there to protect you. But if you have seen police brutality on a daily basis growing up, judicial injustices, your friends die at the hands of police, your friends and yourself treated differently than your white friends by police in the EXACT same situations...where do you turn to? To anyone who will listen, sympathize, and help move you forward to basic human rights and dignity of not being profiled because of the color of your skin or the location of your living. The movement has metastasized from social equality dedicated to dignity, justice, and freedom to becoming a form of retaliation from the Black Knights(who claimed the wicked murder of the Dallas Police Officers). BUT the overall majority response to #BlackLivesMatter was #AllLivesMatter, or with regards to when a police officer was the aggressor they would respond with #BlueLivesMatter, both being an overall discredit and apathy to their grief and sorrow. Others have responded by stating crime statistics, attempting to justify the racial profiling(racism), which everyone knows statistics say what you want them to. In stating the crime stats, they prove the point that blacks are a targeted minority without just cause if you look at the overall drug use and the disparity of judicial sentences received between whites and blacks. These responses have showed the Black Community that MANY do not care leading them to believe they have no ADVOCATE. Therefore, reasonably in a fallen nature, they believed the carnage and inequality of merely looking 'suspicious' would only end if they took matters into their own hands moving toward retaliation and 'hits' on those who they blame for their oppression and in so doing the movement(BLM) has showed its failure and inadequacy by not having an encompassing solution and means that is consistent rather than antithetical to equality. Now the Black Knights have declared anyone who takes the title of Police Officer is fair game. This is reprehensible! But so are the #AllLivesMatter #BlueLivesMatter responses to the cries for help.
#AllLivesMatter as a response to #BLM, takes the cry for recognition that there is a problem and help, and tells ALL black people that it is invalid. In Isaiah 53 in verse 4, it states that Jesus has borne our grief and carried our sorrows. That means He, Jesus, has taken upon Himself a pain that He himself did not cause nor that was to be his pain. And in case you feel as though you have your own griefs and sorrows that you can't possibly bear the burdens of another, in verse 3, Jesus says He was acquainted with grief and sorrows...and no one came to his help. So I ask...Is #AllLivesMatter a Christian sentiment. Yes. Is #AllLivesMatter in response to #BlackLivesMatter a Christian response. No. I couldn't put it better than GeekAesthete did here:
"Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!
The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.
That’s the situation of the “black lives matter” movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.
The problem is that, in practice, the world doesn’t work that way. You see the film Nightcrawler? You know the part where Renee Russo tells Jake Gyllenhal that she doesn’t want footage of a black or latino person dying, she wants news stories about affluent white people being killed? That’s not made up out of whole cloth — there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of the audience (who are white) can identify with. So when a young black man gets killed (prior to the recent police shootings), it’s generally not considered “news”, while a middle-aged white woman being killed is treated as news. And to a large degree, that is accurate — young black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers, which is why we don’t treat it as anything new. But the result is that, societally, we don’t pay as much attention to certain people’s deaths as we do to others. So, currently, we don’t treat all lives as though they matter equally.
Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem."
An analogy with car problems. When driving your vehicle you're trusting that it is working properly and everything is going smooth, but have forgotten the years of use it has had and you typically take for granted that there is something silently wrong. But the excuses of ignorance dissipate when the problems begin to make noise. Because I've got little capacity, time and finances, to deal with the situation, I typically ignore it by turning up the music or rolling down the window to hear the rushing wind as the car speeds through more miles. Then the 'check engine' light comes there is even less of an excuse for ignorance but I will let it sit until I have to get an inspection sticker. Then the mechanic, while inspecting it, tells me of the problem and I try to coax them to just let me by and that I'll deal with it in time, continuing my apathy. But then when the car either dies or the mechanic says 'it's got a week' you typically become stress and since you waited the problem is worse and costs more but you still try to do the bare minimum because you don't want to sacrifice time and money. This is like unto our current situation. May God grant us wisdom.
Suffice it to say #AllLivesMatter is not the answer and is not the Christian response to the racial problem we are experiencing.
#BlueLivesMatter is likewise a response that sounds good and one that a Christian should affirm, in that we are a people who should love just laws being upheld and righteousness being spread throughout all the earth, but when you dig deeper in to what it speaks (as we should), it waves the middle finger and a plethora of vulgarity in the face of your fellow Black Neighbor. Just like #BLM did not happen in a vacuum, neither did #BlueLivesMatter, being a retort to #BLM. It speaks at a volume that lays a foundation that declares the antithesis of BlackLivesMatter, or in other words, an enemy. As well as, because of the abundant apathy toward the Black Community, and then the fact that they started their own movement for themselves, # BlueLivesMatter further states to them 'we recognize what you've said, we retain our apathy but now we respond in not speaking for your community, but rather, we will speak for the community that you state keeps murdering your people and treating them unjustly'! This is NOT a Christian sentiment to a people group that Jesus says to disciple. It's a latent response to a metastatic process trying to ignore the cancer yet all the while recognizing the cancer by spreading the cancer. I want to be abundantly clear, I am not saying Police lives don't matter, I am not saying to hate police, I am not saying that ALL police are bad or crooked and pervert justice, and I am NOT saying that police should ever be a target for vengeance no matter your interactions with police! What I am saying is that The #BlueLivesMatter, likewise, does not provide the environment for Justice, Reconciliation, and Resolve to the widening gap and stronger thumb of oppression and still no presence of an ADVOCATE.
How did we get here and why don't I hear about all of these things?!
From the TransAtlantic Slave Trade (Middle Passage) to Dred Scott, from Segregation and Black Wall Street to Eric Garner, the issues of racism, brutality, harassment, humanity, dignity, and the inherent value of being and image bearer of God have been in question. Many will disagree, however, we must let our history speak for its self. The TransAtlantic Slave Trade happened from the 15th to the 19th century. Its business was built on speedy sale and delivery of working 'property'(Black's) being distributed from Africa to Europe and the America's. In Africa it was both whites as well as blacks enslaved people from the interior portions of Africa and then would sell individuals as property to then go through what was known as the Middle Passage. Estimates of 60,000,000 Africans were enslaved or had died in the Slave Trade. The conditions provided were deplorable, and the treatment of the slaves was reprehensible to say the least. I must mention in brief at this point that, as Christians, we mustn't disassociate ourselves from such an evil practice. As slavery grew in the America's and the American economy of goods and farming production grew, the Puritans of old, (some namely Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield) 'owned' their own African slaves. With the growth of slavery, so came the perpetual prejudices. The Slaves were treated as and told that they were less than human. During Andrew Jacksons Presidency, voting and citizenship became the hot topic. However, 2 years after Harriet Tubman, a slave who escaped and was pivotal in the Underground Railroad, in 1850, individual states made legislation declaring blacks can be citizens of those individual states. But in 1857 Dred Scott made a formal decision stating that Blacks were not citizens. In 1861, the Civil War begins, a battle over 'uncompromising differences between the free and slave states over the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states.' If I may stop for a moment to provoke a thought about these happenings only 155 years ago...was your ontology and freedom ever fought against? Did your owner make you fight on the front lines at times?
In 1865, the Civil war ends and Blacks are now free, yet, with great restrictions, called Black Codes, especially in the south, on what they can and cannot do. These freed blacks also are not quickly educated, nor given forms of restitution for stolen labor...just given their basic human right of freedom.
In 1877, the civil rights of the freed Blacks quickly eroded, leading thousands to a mass exodus toward Kansas to build a community and work and be a free people, much to the dismay of some as they slander those claiming that blacks just don't try like other immigrants.
In 1896, in the Plessy vs. Ferguson case, the Supreme Court held a ruling that said racial segregation was constitutional, ushering in Jim Crow which continued to be enforced until 1965.
1905 to the 1920's, The Black community pushed forward in goals of equality and education, founding the NAACP as well as the Harlem Renaissance.
In 1917, Margaret Sanger, who is well known for her racist remarks regarding a purer race, founded the organization Planned Parenthood and has opened many sites in low income neighborhoods. In the year 2015, in New York City, more black babies were aborted then born!
In 1921, The Black WallStreet, a highly successful area of business dominated by the black community in Tulsa, OK, was attacked, presumably by the KKK, leaving 300 dead and 8,000 homeless, perpetuating the oppression through out history.
In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans ruled that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional! By the time the courts tried to answer this properly, the Black community had already been pushing forward with educating themselves with their resources they had.(Harlem Renaissance 1920)
In 1955, we see two names, the murder of Emmett Till and the segregation on the bus with Rosa Parks.
From 1957 to 1965 Martin Luther King Jr. continually stood for equal rights. He was a more peaceful figure than his concurrent activist, Malcom X, leading many to follow him, yet, his peaceful protests, on March 7th, 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. and a protest group tried to cross the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama where they met 150 State Troopers who beat them bloody, which coined the name 'Bloody Sunday'.
In 1968, President Nixon's war on drugs and the oppressive comments that are tied.
From then on, we see history littered with the innocent murder of many in the black community without an outside ADVOCATE. We do see many men and women of color rise to notable roles as history progresses, Barak Obama, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice, however, you also see many names arise in the news, such as Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Eric Harris, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, and Philado Castile to name a few, and for the most part, their own community is still their own ADVOCATE.
The statistics provided are are usually slanted to invalidate claims made from the Black Community but when you look at the percentage of Black citizens(13.2%) compared to White citizens(62.2%) and then take the number of deaths at the hands of Police in each community(Whites=578/Blacks=301), the disparity of the general population percentage (W=62.2%/B=13.2%) compared to the percentage of all of those killed by police separated by race(W=50.9%/B=26.5%) which shows a large gap! Please find those statistics HERE.
So What is the Solution?!
It may be overly simplistic, but, The Gospel. The Gospel unites a divide and provides justice and reconciliation. Now what does that mean? How do we practically apply this? What if I'm Black? White? a Police Officer? A politician? A Judge? Well lets look at a passage.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
Selfishness is the root that must be axed for resolve. Let's extrapolate that thought.
Black people think primarily about themselves.
When it comes to unjust violence received, I personally feel that they have been the primary community to receive it. However, I must say that when I hear cries about police brutality, yet I look at black abortion statistics like stated above, or when there is violence between black brother and black brother, then I ask 'What exactly are they asking help from...?' Coolio said "Tell me why are we so blind to see, That the ones we hurt are you and me". It's because even within the societal outcry, there is still wicked selfishness. On a societal #BlackLivesMatter movement, they've taken over vigils for the Orlando shooting victims to prove a point. That's called selfish. The lack of people grieving with you does not negate the grieving of every single person and community of grieving of their own hurts and pains in this fallen world. The black community has primarily thought of themselves in regards to their encounters with police. If you are not breaking the law, submit to the just requests of police within the realm of the law, as long as officers are acting within the color of law, not violating your rights, of the police officer. Think about the fact that the police officer would like to make it home just as much as you do. And yet a handful in the black community thought it good to take innocent life in retaliation. I ask you to think of a righteous standard above the color and the movement. The Black Community is calling for justice...but only against one party, but I tell you to exact just weights against all equally since we are all Image Bearers of God equally. Think that a white person doesn't know your shoes, so be patient with your white neighbor as they try to understand what you feel and how you hurt. Think about the grief and sorrow that others carry daily.
White people think primarily about themselves.
When confronted with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the immediate responses I saw were to pounce back with cleverly devised slogans to say #AllLivesMatter. Think about what that says to a community who has had oppression and just 51 years ago a Bloody Sunday on a bridge. Think about what it says to them when you speak against their cries for help (not speaking about their deplorable murders against Police). Think about what it's like to be guilty before innocent in nearly every encounter with a police officer, or wondering if they will make it out alive from that encounter. Think about what the nation has said to the black community on a judicial level, in that many police aren't declared guilty of shootings that go beyond reasonable force, let alone be indicted to investigate further and have them prove their force they used. Think that as a parent you have a question of if your child will make it home or if you or your whole family, children included, will be profiled and thought less of, why, just because the color of your skin. Some black people have gone through extenuating circumstances at times to bleach their skin to run from the hurt and history. Think about what the overall apathy and silence says to the black community. I ask you to speak up with a righteous just standard for both the black community and the police, equally. Think about the grief and sorrow that others carry daily.
Police, in the heat of a moment, are thinking about themselves and making it home.
I have heard the training quote 'better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.' A vow was taken to protect and serve. The ultimate servant was Christ and He covenanted to lay down His life for his people. It is no small charge but it is a position that one goes in to by choice. The vow is a selfless vow. To serve others with a law that is to be upright, righteous, and just, not exceeding nor subverting the law, and to protect the innocent and be a terror, Romans 13:3-4, to the evil doer. If yourself or your colleague step out of color of law, then I ask you to protect us. A Badge does not give the right to lawlessness. Recall that ALL individuals are innocent until proven guilty, both in the courtroom and on the field. Think about the young black man and his previous interactions with police and the lengthy history that his community has experienced in regards to oppression and brutality(1965). Think about how they just received a racial slur and are carrying that weight. Think about the grief and sorrow that others carry daily.
Jesus Christ was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief...and everyone turned away from Him. No sympathy. No helping hand. No ADVOCATE for the Christ. He had His own grief and sorrows and people even despised Him. Yet He took the weight of your griefs and carried your sorrows! So while everyone left Jesus with His own weight and pain, He, Jesus, said that He would take our weight and pain, grief and hurt, upon Himself, without us initiating or asking. He was thinking of His elect more than He was thinking of Himself, rather he emptied Himself, taking on the form of a servant (Phil 2:5-6).
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility...-Eph 2:13-14
Verse 5 in Isaiah 53 states that Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, and upon Him was our chastisement.... Jesus, bearing our griefs and sorrows, didn't stop at a mere sympathetic emotional appeal, but it was also action. He was literally pierced and He actually bore the chastisement, the wrath of God, that was due for His elect.
His Body was pierced
How are you physically acting and living in a sacrificial means to help your fellow neighbor out? How about caring for those who are oppressed in a real physical means? The government is not the Biblical means of caring for the poor, needy and oppressed among us, rather it was the people of God who were charged with such a thing. Would you take a bullet for someone, even when they hate you...like we did Jesus.
His Soul was bearing your grief and sorrows as well as His own
How are you practically sympathizing and helping somewhat have been the victim of racial slurs or violence? Or victims of police brutality? How are you going to also care for your local Law Enforcement when they have just lost a colleague in this war? Neither side should be so selfish as to hold back bearing one another burdens and carrying their griefs and sorrows...even publicly...on either side of the isle!
His Spirit was broken for you. (under the mighty hand of Gods divine wrath)
When was the last time in your prayer closet have you cried out for the black community and the past and present struggles they face? When was the last time you wept for the individual law enforcement officers and their families who have to bury an innocent colleague due to the unrest?
The ULTIMATE end goal is that the Body, Soul, Spirit of a person, like in Isaiah 53:5, is brought to a state of peace and healing at the foot of the cross, where the NATIONS ADVOCATE is found. So I say to my fellow Black neighbor, Police officer, and White neighbors, I am praying for you, but when you feel all alone and like no one hears, Jesus is interceding for you and is, throughout all of history, bringing peace and healing. (Romans 8:34, Isaiah 2:2-6).
Have you cried for or with your fellow Image bearer? Have you extended sympathy? Have you tried to understand what is being said...the fears, the history, the societal assumptions, profiling, slurs, violence, home life? Have you asked yourself 'this person is just trying to do their job well, could I help them get evil doers?'
Have you ever asked 'Why is their all this injustice, division, and murder?'
It's because of your silence.
Be an ADVOCATE and point them to the Great ADVOCATE, Jesus Christ
Isaiah 53:11 says Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see (His offspring) and be satisfied...'
The great call to Christ is to stop trying to build the #BlackLivesMatter or #BlueLivesMatter kingdom and lay down your arms, realize the true enemy is the kingdom of darkness, and join forces to build the Kingdom of God so that Jesus would see His Offspring (singular) and be satisfied! Any other 'movement' other than the Gospel of the Kingdom of God will fail. As Christians, we mustn't be over focused on social justice rather we must be focused on Christ who speaks into social issues with His sacrificial love.
Your grief and sorrows are real, let's work through them...others griefs and sorrows are real, don't ignore or deny them but let's listen with a sober mind, and let's run to the cross where Jesus has nailed our pain to give us peace, taken our hate to give us healing!
Finally, it is out of the anguish of His soul. We are image bearers of God. The furtherance of the Kingdom of God, and in regards to racial justice and reconciliation, will give you anguish. I know I will lose a nearness with certain brothers and sisters in Christ standing for how Jesus deals with foreigners, the oppressed, the orphaned, the Samaritan, the tax collector, the zealot, and the Roman Soldier. Be ready and willing to bear anguish for the sake of others (blacks, whites, police, Asians, Arabs) because of seeing satisfaction that dividing walls are coming down and the Kingdom is advancing. He is God of all and commands all to forsake themselves, count the cost, unify at the cross as forgiven sinners, and run toward Christ.
Author: Brian Ingalls
Soli Deo Gloria