History teaches us that at one time, black people were considered ⅗ of a person. And still many didn't consider them people but property. The dehumanization of a race took place. Once slaves were freed, Jim Crow laws were introduced to remind blacks that they still weren't as good as their white counterparts. My father grew up in the south in Tuskegee, Alabama. He lived through segregation as a young man and still tells me stories of his experiences. It serves as a sobering reminder that we are only a few generations removed from this ideology. The result of that has been implicit cultural memories, unspoken emotions and feelings passed on from generation to generation, that still haunt the black community and society. The black community is still fighting to feel whole again.
Recently I learned of a study that was conducted with 135 preschool teachers. They told the teachers to watch a monitor that showed four preschool-aged students: one black boy, one black girl, one white boy, and one white girl. They asked the teachers to be on the lookout for bad behavior. Using eye-tracking software, they were able to track the movements of the teachers' eyes watching the students. The little black boy overwhelmingly got most of the attention from the teachers. Here's the catch: there was never any bad behavior displayed. The study was to discover if the teachers had implicit racial biases that would cause them to pay attention to one student over another. Once the teachers were told what had just happened, they were devastated. This black boy was a target for potential bad behavior.
The implicit racism that remains in our country and the micro-aggression towards blacks have left a stain on our soul. But healing is here. The Bible says that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I (Jesus) have come that you might have life more abundantly. The enemy's playbook is first offense, then division, and finally destruction. This is not just a natural battle we are fighting. This is a spiritual battle against racism and ultimately division. "When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice." -James 3:18 CEV. God loves Justice, and He will give us peace. He said He would never leave us or forsake us, yet some of us have left Him. That's why the struggle has been so hard. The Lord says, "…vengeance is mine… and I will repay" (Heb. 10:30). He said this because He knew that vengeance takes too much of a toll on the human spirit. Vengeance, in the hands of man, turns into revenge. Therefore we have to keep our eyes fixed on what lies ahead. This is not about getting revenge for past failures of the justice system. This is about looking towards the future for what we need the justice system to look like.
It's time to change it.
It's time to change laws.
It's time to change policies.
It's time to create a system where blacks are not consistently oppressed but are given every opportunity to succeed. A system where blacks are no longer targeted but are empowered.
If we want to have the conversation about defunding police, we need to carry the conversation into community accountability. We cannot be shooting each other in our own communities. We cannot be stealing from and vandalizing our own businesses. The code of silence has become the code of violence. Right is right, no matter the color of your skin. There used to be a time when people left doors unlocked, neighbors looked out for each other, and we collectively upheld the moral laws that governed the community. We must return back to that!
There has been a failure in leadership. But now an opportunity stands before us. Protesting is only the start. But what are we going to do when the protest ends? The biggest myth is thinking that your decisions aren't affecting anyone. They are affecting everyone. Your decision to get your law degree and help people who look like you who can't afford legal representation matters. Your decision to open a small business and employ those in the community matters. Your decision to get your degree to become an educator so you can be a superintendent of a school district, bringing a more diverse curriculum to the classroom—so our kids are reading real history and not one that has been whitewashed of its sins and sanitized by corporate America. Your decision to go into politics to control funding and legislation or deciding to go into law enforcement to serve and protect the community you call home truly…all of that matters. Those decisions matter because those decisions save black lives and even empower black lives. The way you live your life will decide if black lives really matter to you. They certainly matter to God.
(As originally seen on www.davidswinston.com)
David Winston is the pastor of Go Hard for Christ Youth Ministry at Living Word Christian Center and the director of Bill Winston Ministries, a worldwide outreach ministry. Both ministries are based in Forest Park, Illinois. In these roles, Pastor David has dedicated himself to planting and advancing the kingdom of God in the hearts of people around the world.
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