Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Shooting of Michael Brown: What I Know for Sure



It's been exactly two weeks since Michael Brown, age 18, was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. 

Other than a few discussions at home with my family, I haven't talked much about this volatile situation. I've wanted to share about it here in Deep Waters, but I've wanted to speak intelligently about it. There's just so much I don't know about this case right now.

And then I received an email from a sweet sister-friend that told me she'd checked my blog for my reaction to the Ferguson crisis. She encouraged me to "weigh-in" here, and I knew I needed to break my silence.

I feel like I did when I wrote about the Trayvon Martin crisis back in May 2012 in "Our Sons Are Trayvon."

I feel the way I did when I wrote about the verdict in the Zimmerman trial back in July 2013 in "Zimmerman Found Not Guilty/The Church Found Guilty".

I feel like there's so much I don't know. I wasn't in Ferguson when Michael Brown was killed. I didn't see if he struck the officer, if he provoked the officer to pull the trigger. I am no eye-witness in this case. I, like all of us, will have to wait until more facts are given to make my final judgement.

There is just so much I don't know.



So today, I'll just share what I do know.

What I do know is there's another unarmed African American young man that was killed. Another life cut short. Another young man that will never pursue a career, raise a family or live to a ripe old age.

I know that too many African American boys are being killed in the streets of every city in the US. And yes, many of them are being killed at the hands of other African American boys.

I know that I fear for my own sons, age 17 and 13. I fear that they are feared by people of all races. That they are viewed as threats to society. That they are viewed as threats to every other racial demographic. That they are viewed as threats to women of every race.

I know that I tried to persuade my 17-year-old son to not wear his hair in locs. (Many people call them "dreads".) I feared that he would be perceived as an even worse threat with that hairstyle. I feared that teachers in his school would make judgements about my son, seeing his locs as an aggressive statement, instead of the creative, artistic statement that they are.

I know that I worry about my 13-year-old son who's reaching a climax in his "teenage angst". That this season makes him pretty grumpy at times, and kinda sulky. I worry that his athletic, active and aggressive persona will set him up to be judged unfairly. That when his teachers say - as they did last year - "He just seems so moody sometimes", that he'll be viewed as a problem-student. That his lack of smiles will get him labeled as "another angry black boy." 

I know that I worry that when I send my 17-year-old son to college next year, his father and I will no longer be there to advise and protect him. That he'll probably be living in another city - perhaps a much bigger city - where there's a lot more going on. That he'll probably hang out more at night. That he'll be viewed as a threat when he drives or walks down a city street or enters a restaurant.

I also know that many - though not all - of my Caucasian counterparts don't really comprehend these concerns. 

I know that many of my white counterparts don't understand how prejudice and injustice play out in my life and the lives of other African Americans. They don't understand how real and deep "white privilege" really is. They don't understand that if their white boy were gunned down in the streets, their first thought probably wouldn't be, "Was it because my son was white?" 

And through all of this, I know that I will continue to have these conversations with my children. I know that I will tell them that unfortunately racism does still exist. 

I also know that I will tell them to not make the same fatal mistake that others make daily. I will encourage them to continue to love and accept others that may be different. I will encourage them to share the love of Christ with others - even those who may distrust or mistreat them.

And I know I will continue to trust the Lord to take care of my boys. After all, He's their Heavenly Father and He loves them way more than I ever could.




** What are your thoughts on the Ferguson crisis? I'd love to hear from you. Share them here, but please share them in a spirit of love and respect.

12 comments:

  1. I so value your words, Carla. Thanks for addressing this. Julie

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    1. Thank you for reading and for your words of encouragement, Julie.

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  2. Excellent article. There are still a lot of gaps and cover ups in this case. I do know that the police are bringing out the negative facts about this young man to cover up the cops guilt. God will bring justice. Hopefully the community will stop the looting and just march.

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    1. Thanks for commenting M. Rucks. Yes, this is a time that we have to trust God to bring justice. Blessings to you.

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    2. Nicely said. It seems all comments and reactions are just angry arguments on this and other cases like this. An unfortunate thing that happened, but a very honest reaction from an African American mother; a side not many get to think about. Thank you for sharing. Yes, racism still hangs around...

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    3. Thank you Z for your comment. Yes, there is much anger surrounding this case and others - anger from all sides. May we process our anger healthily, so we can work towards leaving this world a better place than we found it.

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  3. From Sandra Barnes--
    Thank you, Carla, for weighing in on this issue. I wanted to hear a Christian perspective, but one that is honest and candid. You did well in providing that. I, too, am raising a young African-American male teen that I bathe in daily prayer. He’s beginning to understand that being black in America is often seen as a threat to some people. I really hate that on top of the normal angst of being a teenager, there’s typically an extra burden of hypervigilance. We know that this constant keen awareness of potential danger can manifest into anxiety and far too often becomes labeled as paranoia. Whether the incident in Ferguson was triggered by racism, I don’t know. But the polarized views in response to the incident are apparent to me. There is a racial divide that has become obvious within certain communities. There is racial bias on both sides that is skewing the perception of what really happened in the case of Michael Brown. As has been mentioned, God is the ultimate judge…and what I know for sure is that He is just. That is why it is so important that our children learn to trust God and rest in Him. We are their best models. Let’s rest in the confidence of our Lord that peace, restoration, and reconciliation will come to this nation. Sandra Barnes

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    1. You're welcome Sandra! Thanks for encouraging me to weigh in on this issue. You truly GET this issue as a Momma to a young African American man. Yes, let's rest in God's sovereignty and power and "that peace, restoration and reconciliation will come to this nation," as you've said. Maybe we'll actually see it in our lifetime, Sis.

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  4. Greetings Carla, It's been a long time... I would just like to share that I cannot comprehend how difficult it must be. The scenario you described as a parent would trouble me greatly. I know that you have great comfort in knowing that God looks out for you and your sweet family. I also know that racism is alive and unfortunately very healthy. However, what I pray, is that ALL people, especially those who call themselves Christian, would look at this. Ephesians 6:12. This is our battle. This is the root of racism. The enemy has crafted battle plans, that really haven't changed too much over the years because his simple approach works very well. Lucifer, and his demonic force, hate us. There is no racism there; they hate ALL colors, ALL denominations, ALL races, ALL Christians, ALL people. He and his minions will NEVER stop infusing hate, that is till Christ returns. TILL then, we, red, yellow, black and white, we ALL are precious in His sight..... geez..... it is soooo simple.... Sadly, as Mark DeYmaz claims, Sunday is the most racially divided day of the year... Sad... Love my Hendrick sisters and brothers. Blessings to you, your family and to all at Mosaic!! Alan

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    1. Hi Alan! I hope you are well. Thanks for visiting and sharing your comment here. Eph 6:12 - Yes you are so right. We do not war against flesh and blood, but against the enemy and his wicked army. This is a deep spiritual root that is very evident in our country. And yet God will prevail - and already does prevail -in hearts like yours. Blessings to you Brother!!

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Carla. Your words are so wise, and you and Sandra both continue to help me better understand these issues and an African-American perspective on them. I continue to pray for the Lord to bring racial healing to our nation, and especially His church--to help us be willing to reach out to one another across color and other boundaries and see through one another's eyes. May He continue to bless, protect, and guide you and your family!

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    1. Kiersti, thanks so much for reading and commenting. Thanks for listening to Sandra's and my perspective and being teachable as we all should be. Keep praying for racial healing, and that His church would lead the way. Know that I am praying along with you, Sister. May God bless you and your family as well!

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