Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Messages Are We Sending?

Tomorrow is my favorite day of the year. The day my favorite people and I get together and focus on what we're thankful for. But this year, I'm having trouble focusing on all the good when there is so much turmoil in our country.

As a white American, I feel awkward posting about this subject. Not because I don't care. I care. A lot. But because I have no idea what it feels like to be a young black man or a black parent who fears for her child's safety. And it doesn't feel like "my place" to talk about it. 

But somebody has to. Because we, as Americans, have a serious problem. 

The facts show that in our country, young black men are being killed and incarcerated at alarming rates. This is not a black issue or a white issue, a political issue or a cop issue. This is an American issue. 

Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Freedom Riders and all of those who stood up for equal rights, we're still seeing incidents that are eerily reminiscent of those times. It almost feels like we've made no progress at all. And I think we need to step back and ask ourselves why. What is it within the American culture that conditions us to fear young black men?

Because it all comes down to fear. You might be thinking, "It's hate too." But hate is just fear wrapped in an angry box. 

So, what are we so afraid of?

It's easy to see what black people might be afraid of. Imagine what it would be like to be the happy parents of a black baby boy. How long until you start fearing that he might get shot because someone else is afraid? And when does he start to become someone to be afraid of? When he's 5' 8"? After his growth spurt at 13?

But what are the rest of us afraid of? Why are we fearing children? And why aren't Americans coming together in a fabric of mutual support and love for each other instead of cracking along a divide of fear?

Because it's all cracking - that's for sure. And as scary as it is, that's a good thing. Nothing changes until everything bursts open and we're forced to do something about it. And while looting and violence are terrible strategies to get the world's attention, they definitely have my attention. And my support and prayers.

Because this mentality has got to change.

We need to stop focusing on who's right or who's wrong or left or right and look into who we are and what we're teaching each other. We need to ask ourselves what messages we send each other every day. We need to think twice before we speak and think 10 times before we post. 

So, today's question is are we sending messages of kindness and love? Because without them, we're going nowhere.



  1. I don't get the fear. Well, I do. It comes from marinating oneself in insane cable news channels and rage-filled radio programs. So stupid of people to live such fearful lives--to the point where we're literally destroying each other.

  2. I've been even more appalled at how the white police officer seems to have no regrets about his actions. To kill an unarmed young man, even if you felt you had to, and somehow not fall apart and need counseling? He must feel so incredibly entitled and righteous, and I don't understand that. But I think it's a symptom of our culture.

    Also --guns. It's gotten to the point where we all just expect everyone else to have guns in the US. So if a 12 year old is waving a toy gun, the first thought of the police is that it's a real one.

    And of course the widening gap between the rich and the poor --that will always fuel fear and anger.


Don't be shy! Please join our game of Questions.