What do I know about being African-American or black of any nationality?
I have to admit, not much.
None of my “best friends” are black, although I have several black American friends on my “prayer walk” each night, some who have been to dinner at my house. Some of these friends worship with me at my church fellowship, others are acquaintances in our neighborhood. Lots of friends serve black communities in exemplary ways, and others are international workers who live and fellowship as minority white people in other nations. A couple of inter-racial marriage partners are close to my heart and we consider each other friends, exchanging occasional emails and travel and family information. I would not hesitate to invite myself to stay with them if we went through their cities, and they know they would be welcome here.
But with such limited interracial exposure, why blog on Being Black in the Time of the Wuhan Virus? Probably because unless you have been living under a rock, you know who George Floyd is. But just in case some cicadas coming out of 17 years of hibernation are reading, 46 year-old George Floyd was the subject of a viral video as Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him to the pavement with his knee on George’s neck until he passed out and died. This despite George’s pleas to the officer that he could not breath and attending witnesses who requested the choke hold be relaxed. (YouTube video with foul language)
Notice, none of the witnesses was foolish enough to assert with force that George needed relief. The officers involved were armed, and at one point, when bystanders began to get close to Chauvin, he brought out mace which the bystanders recognized and so withdrew. But they appealed to Chauvin repeatedly to relax the choke hold, and begged Chauvin take a pulse when George stopped speaking. But Chauvin maintained the choke hold until he released an unresponsive George to the EMTs.
George Floyd interestingly was active in Christian ministry in Houston, Texas, and had moved to Minnesota to help with a discipleship and job placement program. (CT link) The 6-foot-6-inch tall (200cm) man was called “Big Floyd” and recognized as an unofficial community leader. He was regarded by the Texans as a mentor and peace-maker in Houston’s notorious Third Ward, a section of the great city wracked with gang warfare and drugs. The videos deny the policeman’s claim that he resisted arrest.
As a white observer I could talk about the ensuing riots, looting and damage done to the police cars or the precinct station (it was set on fire by a mob), or about the fighting in uninvolved cities where protesters were shot for dangerous conduct (Louisville, just down the highway from Lexington was one of these).
If only a Martin Luther King would speak to the protesters as the Civil Rights leader did to the marchers before the Selma, Alabama marches. (Selma March News) I recall hearing his instructions in a speech that I can no longer find online, but the gist of it was that if you could not let a white man strike you with a baton and NOT respond in anger, “Get out of the line.” MLK wanted no one to validate the abuse of the segregationists and racists who were sure to follow the march.
However, that is not the theme of this blog. “Now is the time to move past our narrow thinking, worldview, and experience, and to step into the shoes of the other, for the sake of the other.” (Ed Stetzer)
- What is it like to be black and jogging in a secluded community and viewed with suspicion just because you are black and running? (Ahmaud Arbery)
- What is it like to be blocked from doing your job because you are driving a delivery truck, authorized by your customer to enter, but detained because you are black and therefore must be up to no good? (Travis Miller)
- What is it like to be over-scrutinized because a black man robbed the store once before? Did no white man ever rob it? Why am I not viewed with suspicion when I enter the same store?
Remember, Christ-follower, that our best-friend-ever was a member of a minority, likely somewhat swarthy looking, maybe even dark-skinned. He was in an economically, culturally and politically oppressed group, looked at by his “Roman and Greek superiors” with suspicion and disgust. How would we treat Him? Of course, “I would be nice to Jesus,” we glibly say.
Heed His words carefully in this trying time with racial hatred, and social and medical disruption making headlines: ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) And pray FOR the protesters, even the ones reacting wrongly ().
Ask yourself, What Is It Like to be Black in the Time of the Wuhan Virus?
What is it like to be black and live in America in 2020?