A Word on “Racism” and “Police Brutality” and the Way Forward
Greetings for the month of July. Six months are behind us in 2020. The lockdowns are easing, but the virus is far from gone. Let us continue to be careful. We have started meeting in person at church out in the yard. We observe social distancing, with families sitting together. It’s fun to watch. We were thinking of beginning to meet inside the sanctuary soon, but the way reports are coming in from other parts of the country that have opened up of the number of infections rising, we might suspend that plan until there is more clarity about the pandemic. You will hear from us.
Of late there has been a lot of talk in the media about racism and police brutality. Calls have been loud for police departments to be defunded, dismantled, or abolished outright. Some voices don’t want to abolish policing outright but only reimaging of the police, whatever that means concretely. All this reemerged with fury out of the unfortunate death of George Floyd on Monday, May 25, 2020, at the hands of a police officer who put his knee on George’s neck after George resisted arrest for a suspected crime. One wonders what a police free society would look like.
After George’s death, racism was immediately fronted as the reason George was killed. The police officer was white; George was black; therefore, nothing else could have been in the mind of the white officer but to kill George for his being black. But remember, George was a strongman so much so that four police officers were having a hard time putting him into a police vehicle. I believe the scuffle that sadly resulted in his death would not have happened had he not resisted arrest. That fact must not be lost on us. The subject of racism arouses lots of negative emotions in many. Crowds form quickly around it, and then crowd dynamics kick in and it’s no wonder that people go on a rampage to do unthinkable things like burning buildings and killing people. Of late the dead have included people of both skin colors, black and white. One would expect a movement standing up for life to be all out for protecting life, all life. But in an emotional agitation, crowd dynamics are in play and there occurs loss of personal responsibility. People get seized by the sense that the right thing to do is to behave as the crowd is propelling them to do. To act differently from everybody else feels out of place. When the crowd responded in a chorus that Jesus should be crucified, perhaps some woman yelled out, “He healed my son.” Another, “He is a good man.” A group there, ‘He fed us with bread.” But none of those voices could be heard over the noise of the large crowd, and we know what followed. A Christian should never be overtaken by such wild emotions and follow crowd dynamics and do things that are un-Christlike even when standing tall for the greatest of causes. Our cause must be right, and the means to achieve it must be right also. If not, we are out of there to face whatever acrimonious accusations rain upon us from the public. We have a Master to obey. His ways and standards are often not in sync with those of the general society.
I would like to propose a few things which I am surprised no one is talking about in the current conversation about racism and what has been termed “police brutality.” Am I alone in seeing what I see, or is there fear of being found politically incorrect, hence the silence? Let me state my surprise clearly. All the talk is about the police as if the police are solely to blame in the violent altercations that happen between them and the citizenry. The reported incidences of “police brutality” did not begin with the police. They started with members of the public on different occasions, refusing to obey police orders resulting in the police resorting to using force to enforce the law. The streamlining of the police will come to nothing if the public is not also enjoined in no unclear terms to change its attitude and behavior towards the police and crime as a whole. I have always wondered, what the police are supposed to do when a suspect turns violent, punches the police, and resists arrest. Are they to look on helplessly, or drive away and leave the person alone, or are they permitted to use as much force as is necessary to apprehend the suspect? If a video is made of them using force to contain him, is it accurate to term that “police brutality”?
And if they are white and the suspect is black, is that a case of racism? I am yet to get any responses to those questions.
I present the following as a Christian leader concerned about the wellbeing of all humanity. I urge this way forward upon all people, especially the youth, black and white, male and female. I am positively persuaded that if we put these in action, there will be very much fewer incidents of “racism” and “police brutality.” We stand a chance to reduce them to zero.
1. Develop a positive view of the police. See the police as your friend. Their job is to keep law and order. Assist them in their endeavor to root out the few bad apples among us. When they approach you to ask you a question, cooperate, and answer them according to what you know. Don’t lie to them. Don’t deliberately antagonize them. They have official marching orders to keep law and order. They pull over drivers if they suspect a crime has been committed. The driver is obligated to cooperate by stopping and answering questions without causing a fracas.
2. Don’t live a life of crime. It is very humiliating to be arrested and have handcuffs clapped on your hands behind you. You are turned into a helpless mass of human flesh. They take you wherever they want. You lose your freedom. You go to court in chains. The world looks at a spectacle of a man. And that man is you? Say no to such a life. Don’t commit a crime. Be an honest citizen. You can do it.
3. Get yourself away from the misuse of drugs and alcohol. Nothing good will come out of your involvement with them. The temporary thrill you experience will ruin your entire future life and condemn you to misery forever. You will join a long line of people who have ruined their lives in a foolish manner pursuing momentary thrills. You can do better than that. Don’t listen to so-called friends who cajole you into drugs and alcohol. In order for you to follow your bright, newly chosen way of living, you might have to separate yourself from some “friends.”
4. Get a job and work to support yourself. Don’t be lazy and expect to gamble with your life by picking stores and people’s property. God forbid that you would choose to live like that. It is dishonorable. You can live an honest life even if all around you are living dishonorably. Be the beacon to change things around. May you become the example for others to look at and be inspired to live differently. Work hard at your job. Arrive on time and don’t attempt to dodge your responsibilities. Make yourself the darling of your supervisors. Be friendly. You can do it. Dream of a better life.
5. If you ever get into trouble with the law, do not attempt to fight the police or try to run away. Don’t even think of it. It’s foolish. You cannot get away. They will get you, I tell you, and sometimes in ways you don’t like. They are trained to handle difficult cases. They have special arms and tactics. They will wrestle you to the ground, say, if necessary, to subdue you. People have lost their lives resisting arrest unless you are black and purpose to deliberately cause a scene so that the media will report a case of “racism” and “police brutality” which in reality is neither racism nor police brutality at all but your cheap concoction. It’s egomaniacal to try to gain public sympathy and fake fame through manufactured victimhood.
6. Go to school and get an education. America is the land of opportunity. There are all sorts of chances to improve one’s education and lot in life. You can get the GED and open a host of opportunities for yourself. There are even possibilities for financial help to pay for school. You can pursue the American Dream: the dream of the opportunity for men and women of all races and backgrounds to realize their individual destinies in freedom. You can do it.
7. Be prepared to work hard. Nothing comes on a silver plate. Don’t expect to rise to the top in a day. It is the long obedience in the same direction that wins the prize. You can do it.
8. Let the media cut back on their talking about color on the air and in print. The news reporting should not be that a white police officer did such and such a thing to a black man, or that a black police officer arrested a white man. The mention of color is not necessary for those news pieces. Such reporting foments the atmosphere of tension between colors. It connotes that it is inappropriate for an officer of one color to arrest a person of a different color.
In conclusion, I say that this fight is for all of us to be involved in. Indeed, there are white people who are racist, who hate black people just for being black, and there are black people who are racist, who hate white people just for being white. I know black people who get all apoplectic when they see a black person with a white spouse. I have seen it with my own eyes. So, no color is an angel in this matter. There are bad apples in both. But such people will always exist on the planet. It is foolish to be racist. But foolishness will never be wiped off the face of the earth. If it could, the entire population of the world would be ardent worshipers of Christ the best that heaven has to offer to humanity. Yet we reject him or flippantly consider him. We set him aside, he, the source of life, and then tire ourselves looking everywhere else where life can never be found.
I should add that it is unfair to accuse all white people of being racist as if every one of that color is racist, and patronize one color, black, as the victim, as if everyone who is black is a victim of the condemned color. White people are confused right now. They don’t know what to do. Most of them know themselves to be accepting and loving to all colors. They don’t even think of color in their interactions with people. They just see fellow human beings. Yet the media has made it a habit to run the narrative that white people are racist. And some crafty politicians like the characterization, although in their heart of hearts they know it is not accurate. However, it serves their purpose and gains them political capital.
Worse still, white people dare not speak for themselves except maybe to lambast the white color. It is safe to do that, not the other way round. Any white person who tries to defend the white color will be given hell by the media. The fact that the black people who had issues with the police were criminals who resisted arrest and fought the police is never mentioned. A case in point is George Floyd. I wish he did not resist arrest. Of course, disobeying police orders and resisting arrest does not mean someone gets killed. Indeed, it was wrong for the police officer to exert too much pressure on George which contributed to the death of a human being, but as a society, we should fairly and soberly consider the sequence of events, what caused what, in this tragedy, and then pass a verdict. Let us also not forget that slavery was not limited to the United States of America. Thousands of white Christians were enslaved in Africa through Muslim raids together with a few people from the Americas. Many European countries practiced slavery. Black slavery on American soil is said to have started 1619 when the privateer named The White Lion brought 20 black slaves to Jamestown, Virginia. That was before the United States of America existed as a nation. Slavery was later abolished in 1865. At the time of abolition, there were black people who owned slaves. Such was in the thousands. Those black slave owners were also former slaves.
The dream that the abolitionists envisioned is not yet fully here, although there have been long strides towards it over the years. Unfortunately, even today, there are a few white people who are still racist. Those perhaps speak negatively about the black race in their homes in the hearing of their children. Their child might find your child at school and make some racist remarks. That does not mean that white people are racist. It means that child is racist as well as his parents. When your child comes home and narrates to you what happened, it is not time for you to run into the streets and burn buildings and close streets in protest. Rather, it is time for you to sit down and proactively educate your child to respect others and to show the other child that he is not what the other thinks and promote friendship rather than enmity. The same goes for black people who are racist who speak negatively about white people in the hearing of the children. They will pass on their racism to their children. There has to be the refusal to settle down in victimhood and harboring feelings of perpetual rancor towards the other color. Teach your child not to see color. Teach your child to simply see people.
I say again, yes, indeed something bad happened to black people 400-500 years ago, namely, slavery. But we cannot sit on our bottoms and cry over it forever, and allow ourselves to be used, lied to, manipulated by politicians who feign to help us. We cannot resign ourselves to nihilism, infinite victimhood, and entrenched hatred toward white people.
As Christians, committed to Jesus Christ and his ways, we must be grateful for God’s providence in all circumstances and demonstrate to the world that the color of one’s skin does not matter. All are equally valid in the eyes of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Heaven does not look at one’s color but at the condition of the soul. Please live by this truth, speak it, demonstrate it, and propagate it by teaching it to your children and telling them to teach it to their own children and friends in the future. I love you all and there’s nothing you can do about it. Have a great month of July, our independence month.
The Rev. Edward Kironde