I chose silence with regard to the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. Until now. Because now there is Breonna Taylor. And now there is George Floyd. And now it seems we are on fire. All of this breaks my heart, but I did not see that I could possibly add to what news outlets and those with bigger platforms had already said. As a middle-aged, middle class white woman, does what I say about it even matter? Do my thoughts have merit? I still can’t really answer those questions. But the more I think about Ahmaud and so many others, the deeper my desire to share a couple of things.
First, I offer a brief summary of Ahmaud’s tragedy as I understand it. On February 23 of this year Arbery, a 25 year old black man went for a neighborhood run. A caucasian former police officer and his son chased him down in their vehicle with a shotgun and a handgun because they believed he resembled someone who appeared on surveillance video committing local burglaries. A third white man followed in his own vehicle and recorded the ensuing confrontation with his cell phone. What exactly was said and done when these men came face to face we may never know. Parts of the video are unclear. However, that Travis McMichael (the younger of the father/son duo) shot and killed an unarmed Arbery at point blank range, is crystal clear.
This event, and the fact that the police made no arrests until the video went viral (weeks later), created a storm of media attention. Once again issues of systemic racism and justice took center stage. In recent years, similar news stories, church shootings, police profiling, riots and protesting have been a catalyst for me to make some changes. I took a look at the books I read and movies I watched – realizing that I tend to choose entertainment that looks like me.
I am most comfortable with white and middle class. It’s not pretty, but it’s true. For the last two or three years (like I said, better late than never), I have made mindful efforts to read authors of different races and nationalities and see movies that speak to viewpoints different from my own. I forced myself to examine my privilege and any biases and prejudices with which I view the world. I don’t pretend to be “woke” to the things I’ve been blind to, but I am determined to keep working on it. In light of recent events, I see my meager efforts are only a drop in a way-too-big bucket.
I claim no expertise here. I have a long way to go and I’m sure I miss the mark a lot. But here’s what I know for sure. I can’t pretend that something (like racial bias) doesn’t exist just because it makes me uncomfortable. It is only my privilege that allowed me to deny it for as long as I did. I can’t believe these things are inconsequential because I haven’t personally seen them. It is only my privilege that has kept them from view.
This week I had an eye opening conversation with two co-workers. I posted about it on Instagram and Facebook. I learned things about my friends that I didn’t know. I read this blog post by a black sister in Christ. I listened to the cry of my sister’s heart. She is white, but her children are not. I checked out Black or White and The Best of Enemies – both movies about race relations – from the library to watch with my family. These are all small things, but they are broadening my perspective and increasing my empathy. Don’t hear me say I can understand. I never will completely. But I will keep looking for ways to see more clearly.
Here’s what I know. All life has value. Some news stories brought Ahmaud Arbery’s character into question. I read that he had a marijuana habit, that he was a thief, that he couldn’t hold down a job and that he’d had run-in’s with the law. To all of that I say, “who cares”. I don’t know what, if any of it, is true. But what if he was the very person who was burglarizing that neighborhood? It would not justify anyone taking the law into their own hands. It definitely doesn’t mean he deserved death. Genesis 1:27 says God created mankind in His own image. The Bible lists no exceptions to this. Black lives matter.
Let’s pray. For an end to senseless violence. For a stop to injustice in all its forms. For us to be able to see and celebrate our differences with appreciation and not discrimination. Let’s pray for us to do better. For us to be better. Let’s pray for a better world for my nieces and my grandson. God help us all.
And now for this week’s featured post!
Amy Jung of wastelandtograceland.com ministered to me this week with What Leads Me to Pursue the Things I’m Pursuing? She captured the age old question, “How do I know God’s will for my life?” in a way that made so much sense to me. It’s almost measurable if we ask instead, “Am I doing what matters most?” Since we are flawed we will undoubtedly still make mistakes, but if we are walking with Him and praying for Him to show us what matters most in each individual situation, we can relax a little more about the big picture. And Amy reminds us that there is grace upon grace for the times we get it wrong. Be encouraged by reading the post here.
Now for this week’s link-up! Let’s bless and encourage one another in our walk with the Lord.
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Mary Geisen says
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on all that is happening. It’s hard to share the feelings and you took the first step brave step.
Thank you, Mary. It doesn’t feel very brave sometimes. It feels like not enough. But this is the platform I’ve been given and I will start there.
Yvonne Chase says
Thank you for adding your voice to the conversation. Thank you for sharing your personal experience as a white middle-class woman. Sharing your world gives me a better understanding of who you are and it opens the door for conversations to happen. I am open to the conversation if you’re ever interested. Thank you for your willingness to learn. Thank you for coming alongside me, your black sister in Christ to fight for justice and equality for black people. thank you for saying black lives matter. Thank you.
I have read your generous reply twice and cried both times. I wish I could do more, but this is the platform I have so I will start here. I would love to continue the conversation with you. I’m going to send you a separate email.
Donna Reidland says
We all need to do a better job of listening to each other and sharing God’s love, of not judging based on skin color or any of the other dozens of things on which we judge others. But the ultimate answer is Christ. We must share the gospel, His grace, His love, and His healing power.
You are so right, Donna. I am praying for revival. God is the only one who can truly change hearts.
Maree dee says
Thank you for your beautiful words and for sharing some books and movies to watch. I, too, want to expand my awareness and thinking when it comes to racism. It is so easy to live in our little bubble until something touches us, and then we stand up and fight for what is right.
Thank you, Maree. I think for so long I wanted to believe it was an isolated problem. But ever since Ferguson, I am slowly opening my eyes.
Shelbee on the Edge says
Lauren, thank you so much for sharing your experience which is so very similar to mine. This is what we can do right now with the platforms we have. Like Cheryl Shops just said in a recent post, “If you can change one mind, you can change the world.” That is where we need to begin, I think. And then we need to start listening, really listening. I am going to link up my recent post on a similar topic.
Thanks, Shelbee. I think the listening part is so very important.
Barbara Harper says
I appreciate this, Lauren. I am in much the same boat. I had thought racism was confined to a few extremists (which is still too much), but I am learning how pervasive it is. I’m listening, learning, and using my voice.
I think that’s the best thing we can do right now, Barbara. Thanks for reading.
Lisa notes says
I appreciate your courage here, Lauren. The travesty of racism is much slower for us white people to see because it’s not in our face everyday like it is with our black brothers and sisters. But once we see it, we can’t unsee it. I’m grateful that more and more are becoming aware of systemic racism that is rooted in our nation from our founding. We need repentance and readjustments. May God show each of us the steps we need to take!
I admit I have been wrong about a lot. I am learning, though.
Suzette K. says
I appreciate your honesty and transparency. We can’t change the way we were raised, but we can choose be open to changing the way we move forward through life, or if we move forward at all. Thank you.
You are so right, Suzette. So thankful my mistakes don’t have the last word.
Linda Stoll says
Lauren, I hear you … and I claim these words as my own, too –. ‘I claim no expertise here. I have a long way to go and I’m sure I miss the mark a lot.’
It’s a time of listening, gentle conversing so that we truly begin to understand, a time for action in the ways that best express our wisest intentions.
And grief. Yes, yes.
That may be the most true statement in the whole blog. Thank you for reading, Linda.
Thankful for people like you who have the courage to speak on this topic. I thought your words were very inspiring!
Thank you, Alexandra. It is a start. I am on the hunt for more I can do to help eradicate systemic racism.
Thank you, but today my frustration is simmering at the surface. I don’t understand how so many can be so unaware of the bias, prejudice, and racism in this country. I want to understand, but to me, it’s selective ignorance. It was almost as if the lack of problems due to systemic purposeful racism insulated you and somehow it was justified as the will of God – and I think this is what baffles me the most.
How can we serve the same God, but our views be so different? What happened to loving our neighbor? Loving as Christ would? Speaking to the marginalized? How does one escape all of these their entire life until now? This is my frustration today. I just don’t understand how white Christians could have been so blind for so long to what is going on with their Black brothers and sisters.
So I applaud your willingness to acknowledge where you are at this point. I applaud your desire to change. There will be awkward moments because of this new awareness, but may it permeate every area of your life. I believe if everyone would live as Christ commanded us to, it would make a sea change of difference. Know that your awareness and actions are important and that it matters.
Though I’m frustrated I appreciate your willingness to share.
Thank you for sharing your frustration with me, Nylse. I am so very sorry for your pain. I cannot speak for everyone, but for me personally, it was easy for me to think that most people believed as I do and that the incidents of racism that landed on the news were isolated incidents. I didn’t want to believe it could be so widespread. But in this age of everyone carrying a camera, I cannot deny what I see now. I have been ignorant and isolated and I’m so sorry for that. I vow to learn and do better. Thank you for reading and reacting.
I’m glad to know and love you both, and I, too, want to be and do better and love as Christ loves. Now, what next? God knows and will lead a humble heart, starting with mine. xoxo
It’s an honor to serve our Father with you, Sue. Your love for others shines through in all you do.
Sharon Hazel says
Even the small steps are important, so thank you for that challenge to broaden what I read and watch.
So true, Sharon. We all must start where we can if we ever expect to see change.
Calvonia Radford says
I respond while fighting back the tears I need to let flow. Everyday when I look in the mirrow, I am reminded of my deficit. As a child, I was given “the talk”. One component of said talk is, “Listen, you will always have to dress better, prepare better, speak better……. because you have two strikes against you from the beginning. You are black and you are a woman.” I understand you were never given that talk and you have never felt those reminders when you look in the mirror. So I know your perspective has been different, thus it has bee almost impossible for you to see our experiences even when they right in front of your face. I admire your boldness. Posting this blog without knowing how it would be received. My dear sister. I love you and I am so glad you are willing to admit where you have been, where you currently stand and that you want to learn. Learning is a process which starts with a conversation. I too am willing to talk. I love telling my stories and listening you yours. We are sisters in one big family. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all start getting to know and better undersant each other?
It breaks my heart that you do or have ever thought of your skin as a deficit. I can’t begin to understand, but I am sorry. You are kind, but there is nothing worth admiring in me. I am a sinful, broken and repentant woman. By God’s grace I want to continue to grow and do better.
I’ve not known what to say either. I do want to be listening and learning. Thank you for sharing the movie ideas.
All I know is this: God loves each of us the same, regardless of skin color!
A pivotal truth, Jerralea.
Kimberly H. Smith says
Lauren, Thank you for sharing this revealing post on Traffic Jam Weekend! It has been chosen as a fave feature for this week’s party that goes live on Thursday at 5:00 pm CST. Yvonne Chase’s post was chosen as a fave feature as well.
Thank you so much for the feature! I am honored.
Michele Morin says
Lauren, I so appreciate your willingness to risk saying anything on this topic. Like you, I have very limited experience with racial diversity. Also, I am a slow processor of current events–I know when something is wrong, but am usually convinced that my words don’t have much to add to the conversation. I’ve been reading a lot of books by women of color and have been grateful for their wise input.
And the comments section of this blog post is a gift to us all.
It is isn’t it. I am so enjoying and appreciating the back and forth. Which is why I am continuing it next week.
MARIE I BUNGARD says
Yes, ALL, lives matter. Perhaps part of the problem is we tend to think only of ourselves forgetting there’s a world of 8 billion people on this planet and God created every one of them in His image. In God’s eyes were all different shades of the same color. He loves every one of those shades and expects us to do the same. We simply have to make it that simple!
Blessings to you and yours!
Thank you for reading and your thoughts, Marie.
Calvonia Radford says
I love this. We are just different shades of the same color. And every one of those colors is beautiful.
Different colors are a part of God’s artistry!
Thank you so much for the feature!