This is about Ahmaud Arbery, it’s not about you and me.
This is about the future while remembering the past.
This is about taking ownership and deciding to be better.
I saw the video. I was shocked and felt fear run through my body. I’ve seen the videos from the 1960s and I’ve read about Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. But this happened now. These are my times. These are the times I’m living and breathing in. These are the times I’m responsible for.
As I’ve reflected, prayed, and spoken with people I respect who are from the African American community I’ve realized where my problem is. I’m blessed to know people from different races and different ethnicities who not only value their heritage but love the Lord; because of that, I’ve been able to ask the question will help me see what I can’t seem to see.
I grew up in the Bay Area and had best friends who were African American, Japanese, and Latino. I never thought anything about race my entire life and I don’t have a single memory of being in a racially charged moment. I’ve always thought that that meant something, that it meant I was above all this because I grew up that way and I’m not racist.
But after listening to some of my friends share how they felt and what they see, I think I need to stop and think about where I fit into all this.
The first area I need to grow in is listening. I see it on the news, I read it online, but am I listening? I don’t mean now when a cold-blooded murder of a young African American man jogging goes viral, I mean when I hear the African American community say they are afraid of the police. A, I listening when my African American friends tell me how they were pulled over for no reason, or how they’ve been called the “N” word by complete strangers.
Something a man I respect, who is also African American, told me as we discussed this murder was that to him everything is connected. When he sees this murder, he connects it to the slurs, prejudice, and mistreatment he and his family have experienced. It isn’t just some horrible event from out of nowhere, it’s a link on one long chain.
A chain is a true image and a dark one. The African American community has come from a past of slavery and while they are not in chains anymore, there is significant evidence that the oppression has not gone away.
I can do better. I must do better.
For now, I promise to listen, not just hear. I promise to reflect, not just repost. I promise to seek to understand and take a moment to feel what you must feel.
As a Christian, I believe the love and grace of Jesus are strong enough to bring us together. Radical grace. Radical forgiveness. But with that, we must allow the Spirit of God to move us to action. Many people are going to forget the name Ahmaud Arbery, but the African American community won’t. And by God’s grace, I hope neither do I.
I don’t know what action means to you, but for me, it’s seeking out friends in the African American community and listening to their heart. I’ve ignored this part of life for too long.
It means sitting my kids down and telling them, even though they are only 8 and 7, what happened and how we despise it and must use our strength to protect and uphold our brothers and sisters of all colors.
I realize it isn’t enough to just be upset, it isn’t enough to just “like” the posts, but I must go inward into who I am and ask the question what are you going to do about it and who are you going to be?
I’m taking notice.
Jesus, give me eyes to see, give me ears to hear, and give me a heart for all people. Let the chains of oppression be broken starting with me and my family. Use my voice, use my life, and by your Spirit lead me to be a healing agent for others. Forgive me, Lord, for growing accustomed to injustice and for forgetting what should not be forgotten. Be with the family of Ahmaud Arbery and be with the African American community.
Jesus, wake us up.