Tears flood my eyes as I prepare to write this blog entry. The tears that can be seen are an overflow from the tears of my heart that no one can see. I did not want to write this, but God was insistent on its creation. So, I ask that you pray with me as we dive in…
This week I saw a news article about two young children in Florida (ages 12 and 14) who ran away from their group home, broke into another home, and donned themselves with weapons as police came to return them to their home. They fired their live and armed weapons at the officers for hours and refused to put them down. One officer shot the older child, wounding her, and then the younger child (a boy) dropped his weapon. (News Article) Both children are still alive.
Now, flash back to November 2014. In Cleveland, OH, a young boy was outside with his friends, using a TOY gun and snowballs to do what kids do- play with his friends. Moments later, he was on the ground, dying from an officer inflicted gun wound. That young boy was Tamir Rice. (NY Times Article)
I grew up in Baltimore, Md. Yes, the home of The Wire. For me, life was not what you all saw on that show. Yes, there were plenty of sketchy moments and days when I didn’t want to go to church because my church was located in the inner city, but overall, I can’t complain too much because I am still here today. I will say that growing up there gave me a false sense of comfort because I was never in the minority (by choice) growing up. In my classrooms, the teachers often looked like me and my peers looked like me, too. I was never treated differently because of the color of my skin (though I was treated differently because of my ethnicity and heritage) and I had never knowingly encountered racism. For me, while our wallets and accents may have been different, we were all equal.
So imagine my surprise when I moved one hour west to Frederick County and I heard a man roll down his window and yell, “N*GGER, go back to Africa” at me after he had cut me off. The only other time in my life that I “remembered” my race was when I was at Carraba’s and the server made a point to exclude me as I sat with my four white, female coworkers. I remembered that incident and vowed never to patronize that company again, but still, I had never been called out of my name.
Today, however, we live in a time where a woman can be pulled over for a minor traffic violation and end up dead; the newest hashtag in a cruel world. We live in a time where a man can take a nap in his car and end up dead; the newest hashtag in a cruel world. We live in a time where a teen can be minding his own business, eating skittles and drinking a sweet tea, and end up dead; the newest hashtag in a cruel world. We live in a time where we can be beautifully Black- minding our own business- yet end up dead; the newest hashtag in a cruel world. We truly live in a time when two White children can be involved in a shootout- FOR HOURS- with police officers and both live to tell the story, yet a Black boy is killed while he plays with his friends with a toy gun. My God….
These are the thoughts of my heart and the hearts of the teens that I was blessed to work with this year in The Black Student Union at the high school where I work. One teen stated that she was eligible to get her driver’s license but feared getting it because she didn’t want to be killed by a police officer. How do you comfort a teenager in that situation when you fear the same thing? I just drove around for one week with a brake light out, praying daily that God would spare my life because I didn’t want an overzealous officer to kill me.
When I look in the mirror, I see a beauty that I cannot even begin to explain. I do not know why God chose to create me and give me this rich, beautifully melanated skin, but He did. He spent a little extra time on me and made me in His image… and I am forever grateful. Yet, for some reason, my skin color intimidates some and terrifies others to the point of murder. Some people see me and instantly see a “threat” that they must alleviate/subdue. They see my sun-kissed chocolate skin and deem that it is open season on “people like me.” For whatever reason, they have already determined that I am “less than” them or that my life is worth less than theirs, therefore my death and immediate departure from their presence is wholly necessary.
Here’s the thing. To say that my life is not valuable is to say that God made a mistake in creating me; however, last I checked, God is not capable of making a mistake. He does not forget, He does not lie, He does not err. He is perfect. So, in deeming one article of His creation inferior to another, is to say that He did not know what He was doing when He created the world. But that’s not what you are saying, right? No, of course not!
Beloved, I truly don’t know where God is going with this post or what conclusion He wanted us to reach as we read it, but I thank God for this time to reflect on the beauty of His divine creation. I am glad that we got the opportunity to thank Him for creating us in His image and the beauty of the skin that we are in. I continue to give Him thanks for the mind and heart that He has given me, to see the differences of others and still love them- in Christ- anyway. Friend, I don’t know His purpose, but I thank Him for this moment of thought.
As for you, I thank God for how He will use this #MondayMessage in your life. I do not know what He will do or how this seed will grow in your life, but I plant it in obedience and trust our Abba Father to do as only He can do. In the meantime, continue to pray for this world, praying God’s healing over all of its inhabitants.