Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Some Thoughts on Ferguson

The decision announced last night to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Mr. Michael Brown is no longer only about this one incident, if it ever even was. This incident has become, and is, about the state of race relations in this country that so many of us love.

At the congregation I serve as pastor, we've begun working in earnest to equip folks with the tools to intentionally share their faith with younger generations. We recognize that, as much as church leaders might want to be incharge of everything having to do with faith, parents have a much greater influence on their children than anyone else ever will.

Parents, or more specifically the adults with whom children spend the most time, are the ones who (intentionally or accidentally) share their worldview with young people. Kids learn how the world works from their parents.

I move through every day assuming that I'll be safe, that I'll be able to get what I need at almost any time, and that I'll have access to someone who has the power and authority to change what needs to be changed in order to make my personal situation the way it should be. That's how my parents taught me to move through the world

What do you assume about the world? If you're white, and especially if you're straight and male, you very well may make similar assumptions to mine.

If you grew up in this country black, or Latino/a, or Asian, or Native, or with any skin color darker than (northern) European, you almost certainly learned something different about how the world works.

See, we learn about the world from our ancestors. I grew up trusting authorities, at least in part because my ancestors had essentially been treated fairly by the culture in which we live.

Most people who grew up in this country with darker skin than mine grew up with decades or centuries of history of being treated unfairly. That deeply-embedded family history cannot be turned around simply because the voting laws changed 50 years ago. It takes generations of everything being different before culture even begins to truly be any different.

From a priviliged white perspective, this is what Ferguson is about. Folks are looking around, seeing that what we have is broken, and demanding that things change.

I'm not a legal expert, so I can't offer an opinion about whether Officer Darren Wilson ought to be indicted.

I do know that Mr. Michael Brown was killed without an indictment or a trial or a sentencing.

Which leads me to believe that our system, our culture, our world needs to be indicted, put on trial, and (most importantly) rehabilitated.

And the place to start, perhaps, would be to start trusting one another - specifically, for white people to start trusting that when people of color talk about how they experience life in our society, they're telling the truth.


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