Yes. I am a Christian, first. Yes. I am a black person. Yes. I am a woman. But most, I am a writer and writing is my therapy from the evils of this world.
There’s much talk lately about the role of Christians in this time of racial upheaval. Whether we should protest, speak out about racial injustice, or even stand in solidarity with those on the front lines fighting for racial equality by protesting. Just recently a young family member asked me to attend a protest. I went.
As a Christian, I do pray. But when I walk into a store or public area, the first thing people see is this black skin first, not my Christianity, nor my character. I’m judged solely on the color of my skin. The story of Ahmaud Arbery resonated deeply with me. As an avid runner, you would not believe the harassment I receive by simply being a woman, albeit a black woman. There was a time I ran through a certain neighborhood during the course of my run, and stopped by a particular store. The security guard at the store, every single time, came out and followed me around the store and harassed me by letting me know he’s watching me. He’d trail me the whole time in the store telling me if I break or open anything I’ll have to pay for it. And if I pick up something, put it back where I got it, he would tell me before I touched anything.
The angry way he spoke to me and looked at me was alarming. I was simply a black woman shopping, looking really, because I was afraid to touch anything. I never said a word to the man, I just tried to be non-confrontational. Until one day I’d had enough! I walked into the store and he made a beeline towards me, started screaming at me before I looked at anything. I turned, looked him directly in the eyes and said: Leave me alone! You’ve been harassing me since I first started coming to this store. I’ve done nothing! You’re racially profiling me! If you don’t leave me alone I will call the police. Your behavior is nothing more than racist! It was only then that he backed off somewhat. Later appearances at the store, he stopped trailing me and would only demean me with his eyes from afar. Those eyes; what look of hatred and disdain! I continued to keep shopping at that store because I choose to be PART OF THE SOLUTION. Every black person thereafter that shops at the store would face the same level of degradation I did if I didn’t fight for my right to shop while black.
As Christians, of course we pray: all the time. But beloved, sometimes the vitriol is so violent againt black people that you get mad, angry even. We’re allowed to feel emotion, we’re human. But the Bible says, be angry but do not sin. And that is what separates Christians from the world.
Unless you are a black person and walk daily in these black shoes, experiencing this black life, you’ll never fully understand the hatred simply for being black. I’ve been called everything from the “N” word to nappy headed, to any other derogatory term and epitaph you can think of. And not only by white people, either.
There’s many other instances of blatant racism too. Like when I went to a bank and the security guard came from across the other side of the bank and stood behind me as I used an ATM, not even going to the teller. Mind you, there were others in the bank. He stood behind me the entirety of the transaction. I turned around and said: “How are you? Hope you’re having a blessed day!” He looked at me confused then followed me out the door! Banking while black!
Oh, not to mention the time while driving with a female relative and a child in the car, the cops pulled us over for a moving violation. What shocked me was the cop called two other squad cars to the scene. For two women? I was very afraid in that moment. That is the fear many black people face when coming face to face with cops. The demeanor of the officer was very rude and condescending. No way am I saying all officers are bad. There are good cops too. It’s the human condition of the heart of those who don’t know Jesus that fills them with fear and hatred. In every occupation, there are those few who don’t uphold dignity and respect for their fellow man. Eventually we were let go by the police. I cried that whole week thinking what if things would have gone differently.
Beloved, there are many, many more instances of blatant racism against black people. So when these police shootings occur it hurts deep down in our soul, Christian or not. I think all black people say to themselves: “That could have been me!” And wonder if we are going to be the next victim. Whether by police brutality or black on black shooting.
We all may not have a global reach. But I do believe God uses each one of us to affect change by reaching those closest to us. God uses these scofflaw moments to plant seeds of love whether the recipient receives it or not. We just need to pray for them and leave the rest up to God.