Trying Not to be Overwhelmed by Racism

What is happening in America right now is unacceptable. Click through to read the full article.

What is happening in America right now is unacceptable.

I’m sure there are many things happening in America that various people might label unacceptable, but what I’m talking about is the shooting of unarmed African-Americans. I’m talking about the unjust killing of defenseless people by law enforcement officials.

In theory, I feel like this is something everyone should be able to agree on. (But somehow that never seems to be the case.)

I’m trying not to get overwhelmed by the pattern. I’m trying not to get jaded and cynical. But it’s hard. Because these incidents keep happening and change seems slow in coming.

[Click here to see the video of the latest incident in Tulsa.]

I understand that police officers have difficult jobs that often put them in danger. I understand that they have to be ready for anything. But police officers themselves attest to the racist culture that pervades many police precincts in America.

The fact is that racism is a factor in all this. A glaringly huge one.

Changing individuals is hard enough much less an entire culture.

So what should be done? What can be done?

Exposure and accountability are good first steps. I am all for the cameras and the viral videos. But ultimately what is needed is changed mindsets and changed behavior. That is a bit complicated to bring about.

gunPeople can get outraged all they want, but the right people–the people in power–need to recognise the problem in order for things to change. Individuals need to be woken up to their misperceptions. Not just policies, but people need to change.

I personally go to my prayer closet and appeal to a higher power to effect that kind of change.

(I also go to my blog, to share my thoughts with all of you. But I somehow doubt many racist police officers will read this, and if they do, they’re more likely to get offended and defensive than anything else. That would be a natural response. I appeal to God to help people have a supernatural one.)

I’m praying that God continues to send reformers into the highest echelons of law enforcement, leaders who can bring about a new way of policing. I pray that He would grant gun-carrying police officers greater wisdom, self-restraint, and for those who’ve been operating under fear or hatred, a spirit of repentance. I pray that He would continue to awaken us all to the subconscious ways we have operated under bias.

The truth is, positive change will be hard to see.

The public won’t see when a policemen refrains from shooting someone. That isn’t going to make the news. We only witness when they pull the trigger.

So that gives me some hope. That more may be happening behind the scenes than we can see. That all the horrifying videos being posted online are waking individuals up and will become more and more the exception until they cease altogether.

But in the meantime, I hope we don’t turn a blind eye to the violence and injustice. I hope we don’t stop asking the hard questions and examining ourselves and the systems we are a part of. I hope we have the courage to face the ugliness, own up to our part, and stand up for what is right.

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Elizabeth holds to simple faith in a complex world. She values the beauty of the everyday and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. She is currently pursuing her MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary, so when she isn't busy writing academic papers, she is usually out enjoying the LA sunshine. She is constantly learning, laughing, and finding herself in awe of grace.

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