Driving While Black

I'm sorry you have to talk to your son about the danger of his skin color. I'm sorry for the systemic brokenness of our criminal justice system.

I also tell my two sons they must comply and be super polite to police and any authority even if they're wrong, because otherwise it will go really bad really quick. It's pragmatic parenting. You are a good parent for having this difficult conversation.

Now let's talk about solutions.

I'm reading "We Real Cool" by Bell Hooks. She writes "Cultures of domination like the United States, are founded on the principle that violence is necessary for the maintenance of the status quo." Pg 49

That blew my mind. I can't say I agree with everything she writes, but I do see a culture fixated on violence. Many of the young men I minister to fully believe that compliance with any authority valid or not is giving up their manhood. They see violence as necessary.

Bell says that Orlando Patterson "emphasizes that long before any young black male acts violent he is born into a culture that condones violence as a means of social control." (Meaning America)

This is truth. Our culture believes that the only way to deal with certain things is to do violence, and if you're unwilling to do that violence when the "time comes" then you are weak.

But if we imagine the Kingdom of God "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" do we imagine a citizen of God's kingdom needing to be ready at a moments notice to do violence? No. Violence will be completely unnecessary in God's kingdom. We will not need police. Police Officer is a job that will be unnecessary in the new earth.

Police are a duct tape solution to an impossible problem. If society was going well we wouldn't need them. Think about that, the only reason police exist is because we can't manage treating each other as human beings. They are given a mandate to show up and make people do something, or make people stop doing something. They are given two tools, words, and violence. Some are trained from a child by their families and community that to have respect requires violence. Many are more experienced and know how to deescalate. But they are mandated by their job to do violence as necessary to achieve compliance. God even makes allowance for this because our world is broken.(Rom 13). I believe it is possible to be proud of the way they do their job as Police Officers and simultaneously sorry they have to do it. Possible yes, but gut wrenchingly difficult. There are many that walk this line everyday, and I'm grateful for them.

The issue is that black or white much of our culture believes that the way to fix somebody is to disrespect, hurt, or kill them. And the willingness to do violence proves you are strong and not to be messed with. We see this from Cowboys, to Gangstas. It's as old as America. It's not a color thing it's an American thing.(see movies, games, music etc)

Jesus said "34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

The measure of a man or woman is not our capacity for violence or disrespect. It's our capacity to love. The only way we can demonstrate love is when we are faced with those who do not seem to deserve love.

If any solution includes disrespect, or violence it can only maintain the status quo.


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