“Do not judge and criticize and condemn [others unfairly with an attitude of self-righteous superiority as though assuming the office of a judge], so that you will not be judged [unfairly]. FOR JUST AS YOU [HYPOCRITICALLY] JUDGE OTHERS [WHEN YOU ARE SINFUL AND UNREPENTANT], SO WILL YOU BE JUDGED; and in accordance with YOUR STANDARD of measure, judgment will be measured to you. WHY DO YOU LOOK AT THE [INSIGNIFICANT] SPECK that is in your brother’s eye, but DO NOT NOTICE AND ACKNOWLEDGE THE [EGREGIOUS] LOG that is in your own eye?…
YOU HYPOCRITE [play-actor, pretender], first-get the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to the speck out of your brother’s eye.” ~Matthew 7: 1-3; 5
I need to apologize to my friends and family. I have been a person sitting on the sidelines while injustice has happened all over my Facebook timeline. I have gently waited for someone else to say something so I wouldn’t have to. I have liked and loved all my friends statuses showing support for others. And yet, I haven’t been daring enough to say anything. I haven’t joined the conversation because I was worried what people would think if I did say something. What if they disagreed with me? What if someone sees me as “Lindsay the white, privileged girl who’s just trying to say her piece”? What if…
I’m tired of the what ifs keeping me from sharing my thoughts on the tragedies that are covering our social media feeds and televisions. By me not saying something, I’m joining the ranks of those saying this behavior from our police departments is fine, that brutality is “just part of the job”. I can’t stay quiet any longer.
Yesterday, my younger sister was the one who brought the tragedy of Terence Crutcher to my eyes. I had no idea what happened in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I waited for the release of the video footage. And then I saw it. I watched it. And then I watched it again. And then again. I laid on my bed and wept. What I saw was a human being, with his hands in the air, walking back to his vehicle with the hazards on. I heard the pilots of the helicopter say “he looks like a bad man” and “he’s going to get tasered”. And then I see that human being hit the pavement, his shirt smeared with his own blood. What I expected to see next were the police officers going to his side and checking for signs of life. Instead, I saw 4 to 5 police officers huddled together, while 6 feet away, a man lay dead. Oh, and in the midst of the images on my screen, I hear the pilots say “Oh, did anyone clear his car?” This whole situation has escalated on my Facebook feed and various social media accounts. The comments for the most part reflect my own… “This has to stop”, “This is wrong. He had his hands in the air…”, “Why are we grabbing for the gun instead of responding calmly?”, and my most asked question, “He’s a human being… why was he not treated as such?” Then, in between the people who are asking the same things I am, are the ignorant. That’s right, I said it. There are those who jump in and offer their “shady condolences” and commentary saying “Well, he had a record. He was known for not following what cops asked. He was probably on something. So, really, there’s nothing wrong. The cops did their jobs”. This is where my heart breaks even more and my anger rises up.
Since when does someone’s past dictate the care we offer them? Since when does someone’s background merit an egregious reaction? Why is a man being shot at point blank range suddenly appropriate when, if it were a white man, our world would be outraged? I’m tired of sitting silently when people, OUR PEOPLE, are dying deaths they do not deserve. I say “our people” because you live in a community of all different people around you… that means you belong to that community…and that means, the people around you are your people, NO MATTER THEIR RACE OR RELIGION, THEY’RE YOUR PEOPLE. My hometown is hurting and that means, I am hurting with them. I work in social service. I work with kids who have records much like Terence Crutcher did. And you know what? I don’t care. I don’t care that they’re black or white or indian. I don’t care that these kids I work with come to me carrying some real baggage. Why? Because it is my duty and honor to serve and protect these kids. When I signed my contract, I didn’t sign it with the condition that the kids I serve have pristine and squeaky clean backgrounds and that they’re white. When I signed my contract, my eyes watered. This was the job I prayed for. These are the kids and the population I have prayed over for years, and now, I get to come alongside them and help them. I have the responsibility of providing them the best care EVEN IF they don’t deserve it. So, when people mention a man’s past and how his death is a justified action, I cringe. How would you feel about being judged? How would you feel about people knowing your stuff and calling the action toward you justice? I don’t believe for a minute that any of us would want our deepest, darkest judgments publicized for others to see. When you’re judging others and doing so so harshly, think of Jesus, when he was with the people and the disciples, teaching them the beatitudes and talking about how to pray and then, yes, Jesus goes there… He instructs his people, ALL OF HIS PEOPLE, not to judge others because the measure they judge others, is the exact measure of judgment they will get. <insert cringeworthy face here>.
I’m broken, friends. I have been called “an idiot white girl“, a “wagon rider who doesn’t do her research before speaking” and my personal favorite, “a privileged white, educated woman who came down from her ivory tower to bless the common folk with her knowledge”. I was so paranoid after seeing those comments hurled my way, that I reached out to one of my closest friends, Matthias. I knew if I was ignorant or if I was missing something, he would tell me. I started a conversation I’ve always wanted to have with a friend of mine whom I admire so much. I told him to tell me where I’m missing the mark. And instead, I was met with appreciation for asking the question of how to speak up and encouraged to point the conversation back to Jesus. My friend Cicely texted me later and asked if I had an opinion on police brutality and you better believe I do. I was having conversations with change makers and all I had to do, was ask the question and open that door. If we truly want to see change happen, we have to be willing to check ourselves, check that the planks in our eyes are gone so we can truly help those around us with the small specks in their own.
To the family of Terence Crutcher, I am so sorry. I am sorry that you lost a pillar in your family. I am weeping with you, praying that the God of all peace surrounds and comforts you. I’m praying that you feel His peace and that you know He is weeping with you, mourning with you and covering you with His love. That’s the wonderful thing about our Jesus… He is everything we need. I’m also praying that the Crutcher Family’s example of asking for peace amidst this situation resonates with my hometown and all the communities in Oklahoma and the United States. Now is not the time to act in strife, but it is the time to rally together, support one another and peacefully protest the behavior of another black life taken at the hands of police. I am with you, and I will be part of the solution, no longer sitting on the sidelines.