Clancy Nixon, November 18, 2016
The latest tragedies involving shooting deaths in the headlines of our nations have been so painful to experience. Two African American men were shot to death by policemen last week, one in Minnesota and one in Louisiana, in very questionable circumstances, and captured by horrifying viral videos. Whatever the particulars of these shootings, there is a pattern of these deaths in our country, where too often, those who have been charged with protecting us shoot too soon. And the number of those who die in this way are disproportionately black. There is clearly a problem in this country today around the safety of African Americans before the law. For the black community, these incidents tap a centuries old history of cruel enslavement and inequality before the law. In the last week, while most whites have chatted about the elections and sports on Facebook, many blacks are discussing these incidents.
To provide some personal perspective, a black friend who is involved with Apostles in the City, a racially integrated church plant in Baltimore, has had her house broken into during the middle of the night four times in the last year. The people doing the break-ins were the police, blandishing their guns! Each time, they were looking for someone who used to live at that address, and no longer does. The police ripped the hinges off the doorframe of her front door each time. And each time, they did not offer to repair it. Can you imagine the trauma of being repeatedly awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of your door being broken down and shouts of “Freeze!” Not only that, but two of her nephews have been murdered, just in the last year. Lord, have mercy!
Then came the further tragedy of the retaliatory shootings by a sniper of policemen in Dallas – 5 died, and many more injured. The black gunman reportedly said he wanted to kill white police officers, and to fight a race war. He was clearly unhinged, but he was also influenced by some radical groups who call for the killing of cops. Lord, have mercy!
Here is what Bishop Felix Orji, Anglican Bishop of CANA in the US and originally from Nigeria, wrote: “In times like these, when racial issues are in question and the news is dominated by violence against black and white people, I believe it is important to remind ourselves that the great majority of white people in this country have not an ounce of hatred toward black people, nor does the great majority of black people hold any hatred toward whites. And that includes those who serve on our police forces. …
The way forward is the biblical way, the way of the Prince of Peace. Every one of us needs to walk on a path of love, understanding, and respect for people who are different from us. All of us need to forgive, and ask for forgiveness, as we prayerfully seek the Lord’s intervention and grace for our country.”
Racial injustice is a real problem in our social structures today, as well as in our hearts. Just as we work and pray to end abortion in the country, let us also work and pray to end racial animus. But let us not think that politics can provide lasting solutions to this matter. This work must be done in our hearts and habits. I encourage you to invite people of a different race or culture to your home for dinner. Get to know more people with different perspectives, and learn from them, as you share your views. Our church is a great place to start!
As our country becomes more and more polarized than ever by race and by politics, let us show the love of Christ and break down barriers that keep us from the unity and peace that God so desires. (Eph. 2:14) And pray, pray and pray some more, for the families of all who have lost loved ones, and for forgiveness and peace throughout our Land. As Bishop Felix prayed, “Help us all to overcome racial hatred, prejudice, anger, and violence in the United States and around the world. May the Lord give us peace and hope as we care for one another amidst the darkness around us. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.”+