Regardless of what the grand jury’s decision means or what the facts say, we should still care about the people of Ferguson.
The grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., has decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson following the death of Michael Brown. Last night, after the grand jury’s announcement, peaceful protests quickly turned into violence, arson and looting.
It breaks my heart to see.
As the family of Michael Brown and the President of the United States ask for peace and change, this is what we see. However, it is important to note that this does not mean most African Americans are involved in the looting. Not at all.
Yet, the looting itself is repugnant in more than one way. It will cause many to lose property and some may lose their lives. However, it may also cause many to say, “See, this is what happens with those people.”
Even more, we need to be careful about our discussion of “facts.” Bryan Loritts says, “Facts are a first and last resort in a court of law, but when it comes to human relationships, let us first stop and feel before we go to facts.”
Please do not be one of those people who ignore the hurt. You would not do that in your interpersonal relationships, so don’t do that in our national conversation.
The point is not to ignore or devalue facts in a specific instance, but to recognize that, in all relationships, there are other issues to also consider.
Every right-minded person I know condemns riots, and every right-minded person should also still learn from this entire situation. Officer Wilson was not indicted. That is done. The facts have been in dispute, but now a mixed-race grand jury has heard them and they have made their decision. So, part of this moment is over. But it is not all over.
My exhortation is that of my several African American leaders I asked to share in my “It’s Time to Listen” series back in August. Listen to the voices of these scripture loving, godly, evangelical African American leaders.
Over the years I’ve been challenged by my white brothers and sisters to just “get over” this. Their refusal to attempt to see things from my ethnically different perspective is a subtle, stinging form of racism. What’s more is that it hinders true Christian unity and fellowship within the beloved body of Christ.
We will never experience true Christian unity when one ethnicity demands of another that we keep silent about our pain and travails. The way forward is not an appeal to the facts as a first resort. Rathewr, we should attempt to get inside each others skin as best as we can to feel what they feel, and understand it. Tragedies like Ferguson are like MRIs that reveal the hurt that still lingers. The chasm that exists between ethnicities can only be traversed if we move past facts and get into feelings.
If you sense exasperation from we African-Americans over yet another news story of a black man slain at the hands of a white man, this is a wonderful opportunity to grab some coffee and seek to understand our hearts. I need my white brothers to know how I felt as I sat in the preaching classes in Bible college and seminary not once hearing examples of great African-American preachers. I need you to know how I felt when I was forced face down on the hard asphalt of Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles, all because I was nineteen and driving my pastor’s Lexus, a year after the 1993 Rodney King riots. I need you to ask how Ifelt when I walked into a Target recently behind a white woman who took one look at me and pulled her purse tightly to her.