It's 12:56 am on a weekday night, and another black man has been shot, killed, and I am wide awake unable to sleep. The worst part about this is that I have an interview in a couple of hours, and somehow I need to gather my emotions and talk about my experiences doing multicultural work. It's a bit ironic given the state of mind I'm in. I often have to remind myself that my professional career may have more impact on the individuals I work with each day than the actual institution or society as a whole. That in and of itself is enough motivation, right?
So, what makes this specific shooting harder to deal with than any other? I am not sure how to articulate it, but I will try my best. Please bear with me as my thoughts are all over the place right now.
I'd be lying to you if I told you that:
Maybe you think I sound bitter, and maybe I do. Don’t get me wrong, I realize my problems aren’t the worst things in the world, but to me they are a signal of something bigger. We’ve become an apathetic, naïve, culturally inept society. Somehow, with all the mass shootings, innocent lives being taken, suicide bombings, and the skyrocketing numbers of depression, it is still not enough of a wake up call for us to do something. Now, I’m not saying that everyone has to go protest or picket, or attend a multi-cultural diversity class, but we have to become more sensitive of those around us – black, white, and brown. What stops us from simply picking up the phone and calling a friend to ask them, "I heard the news. How are you doing? Are you okay?"
It makes me wish that we could live our entire lives without any labels. For example, on the census everyone could simply check one box, "humanity" or uplifting words like, "Worthy", "Beautiful", "Enough", "I Matter" rather than, "Black/African American", "White", "Native American", "Hispanic", "Pacific Islander", "Gay", "Straight", etc.? What if? Imagine how much that would change the way we viewed one another. Imagine, how that would put us in line with a God who is more fixated on the heart and salvation of each human being rather than their mere appearance? Sometimes, it is hard for me to see my humanity in the likeness of God when the world I live in chooses to see me in the likeness of a box. If our physical bodies meant that much, wouldn't God be fixated on preserving both body and soul when we die?
These are the random thoughts racing through my mind this evening. These are the thoughts I have as I hold back tears watching videos of more black men (Alton Sterling/Philando Castile) being shot and killed. These are my thoughts as I face the reality that I'll wake up tomorrow morning, get dressed, put on an outfit that makes me feel good, and somehow move on with my life because this is how I am expected to live. And that's what often hurts, the expectation. An expectation that has desensitized me to the reality of what happened on:
April 30th, 2014; June 14th, 2014; August 5th, 2014; August 9th, 2014; August 11th, 2014; August 12th, 2014; November 13th, 2014; November 20th, 2014; November 22nd, 2014; December 2nd, 2014; December 30th, 2014; March 6th, 2015; March 31st, 2015; April 2nd, 2015; April 4th, 2015; April 19th, 2015, (insert countless others), July 5th, 2016, and July 6th, 2016.
It’s not because I don't want to think about those dates, but because I cannot think about them. I can't appear to care too much; I can't be labeled as that pro-black girl. I don’t want to ruin whatever chances I have of getting a good job. I don’t want my mother calling me and telling me that I've said too much. I don’t want church members being afraid to engage with me because they are afraid I’m a loose cannon, always ready to spew racial dogma. Is this what it felt like to live in the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's, or is this what it feels like to live in 2016? At this very moment, I am not sure, however, this is where I've arrived in thought.
Everyone in society needs to do more.
As I told a colleague in a recent email:
“More than anything, I believe that in order to see real change in our world the real work needs to be done in the hearts and minds of man.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote regarding the role one must play regarding social justice in his book, "Strength to Love":
"Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight vigorously the evils of the world in a humble loving spirit. The transformed nonconformist, moreover, never yields to the passive sort of patience that is an excuse to do nothing. And this very transformation saves him from speaking irresponsible words that estrange without reconciling and from making hasty judgements that are blind to the necessity of progress. He recognizes that social change will not come overnight, yet he works as though it is imminent possibility. This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists...Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted. We need today maladjusted men like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who, when ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar to bow before a golden image, said in unequivocal terms, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver...But if not...we will not serve thy gods"; like Thomas Jefferson, who in an age adjusted to slavery wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...; like Abraham Lincoln, who had the wisdom to discern that this nation could not survive half slave and half free; and supremely like our Lord, who, in the midst of the intricate and fascinating military machinery of the Roman Empire, reminded his disciples that "they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."...Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until the cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way that comes only through suffering" (Martin Luther King Jr., pg. 18-19, 2010).
What Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has written I believe is relevant to 21st century society and religion, it still holds it's place but I feel in many regards has lost it's power. I believe in order for Christianity to regain or maintain impact, there needs to be a renewing of the mind among it's followers. There needs to be a renewing of the mind within Christian communities and the institution of the church. Until this occurs, the rights and wrongs of political correctness will continue to separate us, however, we must allow the work of society transformation to begin within, and as a result of that transformation we can then live our lives like the man in the crowd who stepped out from the noise to help Jesus carry the cross.
Although my sentiments may speak to other areas of our society, much of what I am saying is in reference to racial inequalities and violence. However, these sentiments are not impartial to just race.These are my thoughts of the moment. Not even sure if I will post this. I've read through this about 6 times, and chances are this may never get posted out of fear.
Whatever decision I make in the morning, one thing is certain, it is now 1:50am and I need rest. It's not easy living a life where you feel like you have to wear so many masks.