I drove past a police car yesterday morning on my way to work and started weeping. I started weeping as the faces of my black friends sped through my mind and the thought of them being pulled over by a police officer, wondering what would go through their minds.
If, when they get pulled over, their hearts start racing, hands start shaking, thoughts begin consuming them with wonderment of whether or not this will be the time it’s them.
The two times I’ve been pulled over, my biggest concern was if I would get a ticket or be able to talk my way out of one – not if I would lose my life or be assaulted by an officer performing a routine duty.
I was weeping thinking about seeing a news story with my friend’s name as the headline along with, “Another Black Man fatally shot by Police.”
For those of you that want to say, “Oh come on Kayla, don’t make this a race thing!”…well…it IS a race thing. In the past 48 hours, two black men have been shot to death by police officers that are not black.
And before your mind goes to, “We should know all of the facts before we start talking about this…”
I won’t settle for that anymore. The only fact I need to know right now in order to weep the way I did yesterday morning is that 2 more human beings were killed by a bullet fired from the gun of a government official.
Close your eyes for a minute and picture yourself on your couch.
Your phone rings.
“Ma’am/Sir, we regret to inform you that your son/husband/friend/brother has been killed in an altercation with law enforcement…”
What’s your reaction?
Do you say to yourself, “Well, the officer must have felt threatened for his/her life, or they wouldn’t have done that,” or, “My loved one must have resisted arrest to the point of physical violence, or this would have never happened.”
You would have cried.
You would have wept so bitterly that your body shook and you went into a state of shock.
You would rush into mourning in ways you never have before.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I had the right to speak on this subject – to try to put myself in the shoes of another that I will never, and can never, fully empathize with. To enter into a story I will never fully understand.
But over the past 2 days – 2 years, really – I’ve ultimately decided that I cannot not speak about it.
To be silent, to me, is to pretend this kind of harm doesn’t exist. To be silent is to, in my mind, perpetuate the injustice that is so apparent in our society.
Now, please hear me – I AM NOT saying that all police are racists, have no compassion, and are not interested in serving their community in ways that put them at risk every single day. I AM NOT saying the officers who lost their lives in Dallas isn’t a heavy thing to bear today, and that we shouldn’t talk about it.
I AM NOT saying that all black people who get pulled over are 100% innocent in every instance throughout all time.
Officers losing their lives protecting a peaceful, black protest. Black men losing their lives by police brutality. This isn’t a day to pick sides. This is a day to mourn over sin and brokenness in our world, over lives lost because all we know to do is incite violence on one another. I am heart b.r.o.k.e.n. over each instance.
What I AM saying is that my heart is heavy for the black community.
My heart is heavy for fellow humans – humans that, because of the imago Dei, are inherently given value, worth, and dignity. Just because they are alive. Humans that should be cared for and fought for regardless of their skin color.
What I AM saying is that I can no longer pretend that this isn’t my problem. I have to feel something. I have to speak something. I have to enter in where it is uncomfortable.
And if you aren’t okay with that, feel free to unfollow/unfriend/delete me from your phone book. OR, better yet, let’s grab some food, coffee, or something and have a conversation about why these things are hard and why emotions are all over the spectrum when it comes to race relations in our country.
We are all hurting. On all sides.
And instead of throwing statistical rocks at one another, we need to have civilized conversations – recognizing that, unless we are walking in the skin or the uniform, we’ll never fully understand how deep the wounds run.
If you’re black, please take me with you. Take me into your life and your community. Help me to see your hurt. Help me to know your culture. Help me to understand what I don’t currently understand.
And if you’re a person in uniform, or closely tied to one, take me with you as well! I want to hear and know the stories behind the names. I want to understand why you wear the uniform you wear, and what in your life impacted you in such a way to put your life at risk every day.
And if you are going to comment or throw around #AllLivesMatter, I hope you’re the first one to step in when violence is being enacted on our black brothers and sisters. Because you’re right, all lives do matter, because all mankind is made in the image of God. But all lives can’t matter to you if black lives don’t matter to you.
And before you write me off thinking that liberal media has brainwashed me, know that they haven’t – but the Gospel of Jesus Christ HAS, and will continue to, change my heart. And if that heart change means that He is moving me to speak for those that won’t be listened to, then that’s what I’m going to do.
All that I’m asking you to do with this is think.
Think about what you would do if you received that phone call.
Put yourself in the passenger seat while your loved one is bleeding out next to you and your 4-year-old daughter is in the back of the car.
I’m sure over the next days, weeks, months that new information will surface, facts and evidence will be revealed, but for now, can we please put our fists down and just grieve? Can we mourn with those who are mourning? Can we agree that the loss of life is a hard thing to bear?
And can we figure out a way to talk with one another as if we’re all in this life thing together?