Race, Violence and the Perception of A Child

Two nights ago, I watched the video Philando Castile’s girlfriend posted after he was shot and killed by police July 6. And just the day before before, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police. Racism is alive and well in the subconscious of certain individuals.

This is something that needs to be talked about, otherwise how will we as a community ever get through to change perceptions? It’s easy to get caught up in the anger and violence in the world and feel that there is an race-war undercurrent happening.

Fear breeds fear. Fear of the police. Fear of the black community. Fear for our youth. But violence feeds off this fear, too. Without getting into the cause or reason, or the history of race in America, my heart goes out to the youth of our nation.

My young kids are sheltered from this for now, and therefore I am sheltered from such conversations, but I can’t help but think about the day when they are surfing through their own Twitter feed and expressing their points of view. My prayer is that their point of view is one of love and compassion, because our youth can continue the movement of change we have made for the better in the world.

My prayer is for them to keep their perceptions open wide and keep their child-like view of the world. I see my young children at the ages of four and three months wide open to anyone who may come their way. Sure, my pre-school-aged son is developing a healthy awareness of stranger-danger, but that doesn’t stop him from telling the usher at a major league baseball game his name.

As Jesus said “I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.” (Good News Translation US, Mat. 18:3)

This says to things to me:  1. That a child-like view of the world is a gateway to heaven. 2. That my children will grow up to become adults that need changing.

I am broken. I have to stop and keep my perception open to ensure that I am not being altered by biases, either learned from adults growing up or media.

Biking home on my five mile commute, I roll through a part of the city that is not known for it’s wealth, safety or lack of drugs. Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a NYC crack-filled skid-row of the ’80’s. But just yesterday, my commute was interfered by police tape surrounding several blocks. The primarily crowd of onlookers were black. The media and police were primarily white.

lowry

I reached for my Twitter feed to pick up any live updates and learned about a drive-by shooting that was being reported by various civilians in the area.

I felt fear creeping in and gave myself two choices in this instance. I could either get on my bike and pedal madly to get the hell out of there. Or I could connect with an onlooker to see if they had any additional info. Being curious, I opted for the latter.

A large African American man shared with me that there was in fact a shootout with a mini van and he shook his head in distress. I shared that it saddened me, too, and offered up for the Lord to help us. He echoed, “We need it. Take care brother.”

For that brief minute-and-a-half, we weren’t black or white men. We weren’t comparing our situations in life. We were simply offering our condolences and prayers to those who choose to express their pain through violence.

I can only pray to not let fear drive my actions and show my children that those who are expressing violence are a minority, whether they are a police officer or civilian.

 

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