Being a part of the blogger world is quite disconcerting at times. When big events, especially tragic ones, happen, there is a bizarre sort of race toward the world of social media to get reactions, clever or insightful angles as well as personal judgments spewed out into the world. Though I often write of parenting and family matters, current events and my evolving Christian faith sometimes drive my writing as well. In a 24-hour news cycle, the temptation is to compulsively react to matters that are more appropriately handled with a great deal of contemplation and soul searching. Wait and consider and pray often comes to mind when my reactions and inner thoughts begin to spin and whirl out of control on any number of challenging topics leading today’s headlines.
Dr. John Perkins, a much loved and respected man who has given his life to the work of racial reconciliation and Christian community development, landed in Raleigh a few months back. As a young man, he was unjustly beaten, tortured and imprisoned during the height of the civil rights movement, yet he has devoted his life to the slow work of racial reconciliation within our country. Now 86 years of age, he continues to speak out and challenge others to move forward along this path.
Recent headlines and shootings happening in St. Paul, Baton Rouge, Dallas and now Baton Rouge again remind us that this critical work of racial reconciliation still has a long, long way to go in these ironically named United States of America -divided rather than united seems a more apt description of so many of the monologues and positions swirling around us as citizens. I have previously written of my personal paralysis and questioning of what in the world does this 53-year old white lady of privilege say and do when tragedies of this magnitude continuously roll out before our eyes?
Even before Philando or Alton or the police officers doing the critical work of keeping the peace were killed, the invitation as follow up to the weekend with John Perkins was issued. Come to the Golden Corral, break bread together and listen and learn. When that night arrived, we as citizens had been through a very difficult week. Roughly 50% African American and 50% Caucasian sprinkled with a Latino and Asian presence gathered on this night.
We ate and got to know each other on a surface level as we talked of work and family and summer plans. Then the floor was opened up and the elephant in the room question was spoken out loud. How do each of you feel about the most recent national tragedies we have witnessed and heard tell of and experienced each in our individual way? Every single person had opportunity to give voice on this matter. The emotions were high and ran the gamut - from anger to despair to sadness to fear to hopelessness to hopefulness and beyond. We listened to each other. I walked away from that evening with much to ponder as well as a better understanding of my fellow brothers and sisters of varied races.
We will continue to meet together in mixed race and smaller groups. We will meet in local restaurants for lunch and invite and host one another in our homes for dinner. Hopefully this will be a springboard to continue to do the on-the-ground work of doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God. As Kent Annan’s book title says, it is certainly, “A Slow Kingdom Coming.” We will start with listening, honor and respect for all and move toward living life as friends.
I don’t have a lot of answers. I am saddened that there is pressure to choose corners in so many national matters – it is not incongruous to both believe that a percentage of law enforcement is biased against black men and that law enforcement is an honorable and much needed profession. It is not “either or”, but “both and”.
I am weary and exhausted over seeing this sight. Not for some esteemed citizen who has passed away after living a long, honorable or dedicated life, but in response to violence and hatred and lives shot down far too early.
Just last night, in the dark hours of the early morning in my very own neighborhood, KKK material was distributed. I am horrified and angry. The rumblings and undercurrent and outright brutality throughout our country are unsettling and seem to be throwing us all back to dark times of societal violence and injustice. I imagine that my black friends have many stories of how that very same injustice has been present for them and those they call family all along the way. I need to listen and receive. I guess I will just keep showing up at the Golden Corral and open wide the doors of my home as well as my heart to all who stop by.
I have read a number of perspectives on recent happenings. Here is one that has helped me understand the view of another.