I’m seeing more and more posts and comments on the tragic killing of Sean Bell in NYC. Julie Bogart has a good post here that is worth the read.  The whole incident really got me thinking.

I would like to say that the reason the news of this event was so slow to get to the southwest (Texoma) was because we are above such things as racial divides.  I really would like to say that.  But I can’t.

Just a little over a year ago, here in SW Oklahoma, our sherrif threatend to “kill every f&%*ing n1663r in this county!”  You see, his daughter (15 years old) had gotten pregnant with a young (16 years old) black man.  Despite the strong evidence that his daughter initiated the encounters, he blamed the guy (I suppose most fathers would).  But, instead of a personal “how dare you” type of issue, he greatly expanded the scope when he labeled the problem as a lack of morality in the African-American community in the county seat.

Just today, I received an e-mail which spoke of “white pride” and questioned why “when whites have pride it’s racist, yet when minorities have pride, its okay?”  The letter was filled with a spirit of pain, disgust and anger.  I truly believe that the author, unidentified, was wondering about equality and reverse discrimination.

I guess the problem is that most people are interested in justice.  I hear the “church” calling for justice in the world.  I hear the family of Sean Bell calling for justice.  I hear the author’s of e-mail crying for justice.  I, for one, don’t want justice.  Justice brings pain and retribution, and continues the cycles of hate and distrust.   I want grace.

White communities across the US cringe when young, black males walk around in groups; they seem to see something menacing in their postures.   Young black males in white neighbor hoods walk in groups, it would seem as a defensive posture due to the tension THEY feel.

Al Sharpton is calling for changes in the police force.  For once, he and I agree.  (He’s been on my “with a grain of salt” list ever since Tawana Brawley. )  But I think it goes further.  He wants the police to change who they are, but that can only happen if the African-American community can change who they are.  The NYC police have an inherent distrust of blacks, but the blacks have an inherent distrust of police.  EVEN if the police were to change, to learn to trust black people, to learn to give them the benefit of the doubt, to learn how NOT to profile, if the black community keeps running from the police, if they keep trying to handle problems internally, if they keep treating the police as the enemy, the police WILL revert to treating them as criminals.

We need grace.  We need the police to own up to their mistakes and punish the guilty (even and especially when the guilty are police!), and we need the African-American community to give the police a chance to change.  That requires grace.  It requires building bridges of trust and respect.  It requires time and accountability.

God give us grace.  Help us to know that before Christ Jesus, we are equal.  Help us to trust each other.  Help us to love one another.   Give us grace.

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