All of that changed three years ago when we brought home two African American children as our own. We went through adoption training about being a transracial family, but nothing fully prepared me for what that reality really meant here in America. I didn't understand the horrific history of police brutality against African American males in particular or the ways that the American justice system has failed that population.
In all honesty, I would have done a little victim blaming myself. I mean - he shouldn't have been dressed like that. He should have complied. He shouldn't have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. And while bits and pieces of those things might be true, it does not excuse the end results - the beatings, the deaths. Same song, millionth verse.
John and I have been watching OJ Simpson: Made in America which includes a fascinating deep dive into the racial tensions in LA leading up to the murders. It opened my eyes all over again to the fact that though African Americans have had equal civil rights in our country for decades, things are far from equal for them. White privilege is a thing, and I've been a beneficiary my whole life, and now I can finally see it. It's certainly not something to be ashamed of, but I can now acknowledge that here in America, the scales are weighted in my white favor simply because I am white.
So - what do I do? The truth is, I don't feel qualified to really speak on this, and I'm linking to several well-written articles by people whose voices I want to magnify. But, I have realized that one of the things to do with my white privilege is to use it. I haven't spent much time reading comment threads, but it took me just a few clicks to see that the same old debates were raging. The victim blaming. The propping up of a system that has been weighted in favor of white people who don't want to see it that way. I felt nauseous and angry all over again.
I don't spend a lot of time writing about opinions here on the blog for a lot of reasons, but I realized that this is too important to keep to myself. And, if my children ever do read this blog, I want them to know where we stand and that we choose to take a stand. I've prayed at length over whether or not to hit publish on this, but I do feel God prompting me to use my tiny little corner of the internet.
#Alllivesmatter can't be a real thing until #blacklivesmatter.
(This is a great summation of why.)
As the majority group, we white people don't get to write the story of how African American people should feel. We don't get to put constraints onto their grief. We don't get to spin their experiences into the story that we want to tell. It's our job to listen. Open our eyes. Open our hearts. Put down our offenses that are so easy to take up and realize that this pain is not being magicked out of the sky to make white people feel guilty. It is pain, because the systemic injustices that have been suffered in our country are fresh and current and ongoing.
I do also feel like I need to note that this pain does not excuse the horrific and unimaginable assassination of police officers in Dallas this week. Nothing excuses that sort of violence. (I love this post by another adoptive mother "How We Won't Choose Sides.") It hurts the overall cause and creates more grief and pain and anger. I believe with all my heart that most police officers want to serve and protect all people, and their job is incredibly difficult with life and death situations that I cannot imagine trying to handle in an instant. I'm so thankful for the job that they do, and I know this issue cannot simply be boiled down to problems in the police force. It's a problem with our entire society. I'm praying for the loved ones of those fallen officers. I'm praying for those families who currently fear for their loved ones who are courageously serving and protecting the American public.
The problem is in our hearts - all of our hearts. We live in a fallen world, and each one of us struggles with thoughts and attitudes that often don't honor people around us. We need more of God's love in every move that we make. We need to open our arms in compassion to those who are suffering around us and listen and be with them. We need to be reminded that this world is not our home and that true freedom only comes with Christ. We need to listen and mourn with those who mourn and align ourself with true justice for all people. (Here's a great post about that.)
I'm so thankful that God is doing this work in my heart and moving me more towards people who are oppressed. I so easily could have missed it, but because it is now in my home - my heart and mind are tuned in. I'm repenting of the ways that I've contributed to the issues at hand and praying that God lights the next steps in our journey of awareness and action. It breaks my heart, but I would rather be heart broken than blind.
I hope and pray that we can walk forward in a new way that makes the world better for all of our children, but especially children that look like this.
Other resources worth reading:
When I Can't Breathe, I Will Listen by Osheta Moore