During this season of Advent, we remember and celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ, of divine feet on earth, of God with us. Still, I can’t help but wonder what the world is coming to. The recent death of Laquan McDonald still has my mind reeling. What is happening to us?
What is happening to my mind when I watch a seventeen year old child shot sixteen times? Or, how will my eye sight be impacted after watching Eric Garner being choked to death? And what of the deaths of Tamir Rice or Walter Scott or Samuel Dubose? What of our humanity has died with them? Their last breath should not be wasted, held or not used to voice this loss of relationship.
As we reflect on the humble beginnings of Christ and the meager ways he came to us, I challenge us to look at the ways that we have arrived at our present state. How do we enter the community and the conversations of others and are we humble? What do we ride in on when we enter a room? And who surrounds us, who are we looking at when we talk about Jesus?
What the world comes to is based on our willingness to move in ways that encourage authentic and transparent conversations and resultant community. But, we must come ready to talk without defense or excuse. No shouting matches or blame- shifting. Shh. Remember, the baby is in the manger. Christ has come and God is with us.
And whatever we do or don’t do, our world will come to God in the end, divine feet on earth, touching all country roads and city streets to include the one that held Laquan McDonald.
I have been thinking about why I think the way that I do about race. I am well- read on the historical origins of the social construct of race and current practice of its progeny, here being prejudice, stereotypes, white privilege and racial profiling. I hear the stories and have been a part of my share of them– both past and presently. I collect old books about race and continue to research its imagery and social messaging. I watch the news and the video footage of traffic stops turned deadly.
Still, I am not moved to change my position. I still believe in the race-less gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, the increased coverage of stories of actual and suspected police brutality have encouraged me to speak out more against the use of race as a lens for identity, judgment, social relationship and the like
To be sure, after watching the body camera footage of the University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing’s aggressive traffic stop of forty- three year old Mr. Samuel Dubose, I was frightened. When additional footage was released of officers supporting the false testimony of Tensing who said that he was dragged by Mr. Dubose, I was sickened to my stomach and deeply troubled. I wondered, “What kind of law is this?” and said to myself, “If I am stopped by a police officer, I am driving to the police station.”
While there are those who would argue that this is an isolated incident, there are far too many of these specific kinds of incidents in different places for it to be isolated. I am not comforted by paid administrative leave or diversity training. No number of lawsuits filed and settled will cure my discomfort.
And yet, I still believe in the message that I have called to proclaim. While I am disgusted and often in despair, I can’t say that my hope is diminished, that I believe any less. Why?
It’s due to my view. I don’t know when or where or why it happened. But, at some point, I climbed out of the box or was pushed out of this social category. This is why I see differently and why I see humanity differently.
It is because I am standing on top of the box; the box is not on top of me.
This New York Times article really needs no introduction. Roxane Gay has thoughtfully and exceptionally written in response to the recent murders of both Mr. Samuel DuBose and Cecil the Lion. The connections made are striking and leave no one untouched. I hope that her words contribute to our ongoing conversations on the social construct race and our common humanity. The full article can be found here.