Sticks and stones may break my bones, but Quotes will never hurt me

On the heels of my post (3 June 2021) Did United Methodist News hear me, where I discussed the United Methodist News Services relentless bombardment of articles and stories on racism, another article caught my attention today.  In a commentary by Laura Derr, she asserts her white privilege had affected others negatively, but she doesn’t give readers an example of her claim. The notion of white privilege was born of liberals who needed to deflect criticism for their failed policies in black communities. Instead of taking responsibility they shifted the blame to a false narrative of white privilege. These types of commentary can be harmful to already tense race relations. The message Derr leaves readers with is that “another white woman hurt us blacks.” Derr’s commentary raises a number of questions I’ll try to explore here. Chief among those questions is “where is personal responsibility.” When I ask this question, know that I’m concerned about about those who write commentaries, articles, the talking heads on the news, and all of us that make up the Body of Christ.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1
Photo by Laura Derr

Racism exists to some degree in people of every color

I reached out to Laura Derr, but didn’t get a response, I read her commentary which was published by UMNews with great reserve and tremendous concern.  The reasons are myriad, but I’ll try to digest them down to a few key points.  The reality is racism does exist in America, but it is not a one-way street.  Some Whites have prejudices, but so do Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and Latinos.  A resounding theme in many left-of-center arguments is that personal responsibility only applies to whites.  While George Floyd’s death was certainly tragic, all loss of life is equally tragic.  But when we leave out the element of personal responsibility, we send a signal to our youth that being irresponsible is acceptable and even honorable.  

These also are sayings of the wise. Partiality in judging is not good.

Proverbs 24:23

Double what?

Derr quotes W.E.B. Dubois, from his book The Souls of Black Folk where he wrote of a “double consciousness, this sense of always looking at oneself through the eyes of others. One consciousness is your African American heritage, and the other is a consciousness born out of white supremacy.”  The Rev. Justin Coleman, senior pastor at University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina quoted Dubois in his belief that black pastors leading predominately white congregations must deal with double consciousness. If black pastors are living double consciousness where half their existence is focused on white supremacy, then my fear is they may be a bit racist themselves.  The reality is whites are not predominately racists, and well over 99.988% of whites have never met a white supremacist.  These types of notions on white supremacy tend to do little more than throw fuel on dying flames. By the way, does anyone know where these “white supremacists hide?” If it’s really such a problem, where are they, are they marching thru the streets, have they been burning buildings down and looting and where are the riots. Let me stop you here and remind you only one group has done this in recent history, and that was Black Lives Matter.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 12:18

America is color blind

But Derr didn’t stop with that outlandish quote from Dubois, she went on to quote Bishop Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal Church.  In Curry’s memoir Love is the Way, he wrote “Plenty of good people hold tight to the belief that American society is color blind, because to believe otherwise is far too painful. Their ignorance, in turn, causes great pain.”  The reality is that plenty of good people hold tight to that believe because it’s true and backed statistically.  It seems some think that whites identify everyone they see by color.  This is nonsense of course, and the inference is that we place balloons over people’s heads by color as they approach.  Many on the left want Americans to forget or at least pretend we didn’t vote a black man into the White House. I’ve searched the internet and can’t find a single statistic that points to America being anything but colorblind, after all whites make up only a small fraction of those who immigrate to America each year. I’ll wait while the rest of you look that up.

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.

John 7:24

Facts, “you can’t handle the facts”

Derr said that in May, when so many violent black deaths seemed to occur all at once, that her Sunday school glass discussed these concerns. I think the facts of Floyd’s death are often if not exclusively left out of the discussion.  Floyd was a known convicted felon. Between 1997 and 2007, police in Texas arrested Floyd a total of nine times, on charges ranging from drug possession to theft. In a home invasion on  Aug. 9, 2007, George Floyd broke into a woman’s home and held a gun to her abdomen.  Floyd spent five years in prison for his participation.  On the day of Floyd’s death, police were called after he allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit note.  His autopsy confirmed he had a lethal amount of fentanyl in his system.  Video shows that Floyd was resisting arrest.  None of this makes his death justified, but if we were to apply any standard of personal responsibility to these events, we would have to conclude that had he not been a known felon, in the commission of a crime, high on illegal drugs and resisting arrest, he would be alive today.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

John 17:17

Missed teaching moments

Mac MacDonald writing for the Wall Street Journal reported that “in 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit[ed] about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.”  A study by Jon Shane and Zoë Swenson, found that in 90 percent of cases involving “unarmed” suspects, the police opened fire only because they felt they were facing “an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to themselves or a third person.”  So, there is much more to this issue than being reported by most in the media.  While all of these shootings are tragic, each provided a teachable moment for our youth.  A teachable moment lost in every case.  Instead of the media and others honing in on personal responsibility in each of these cases, the media immediately and without any investigative finding of fact, blamed the police.  In many cases criminals were made martyrs of, teaching vulnerable youth that their illicit actions are tolerable and even justified.  The question is how many more lives will be lost to the lessons being taught by those who justify the actions of criminal behavior. 

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

Naming parks after felons

In honor of Floyds felonious life, an area of downtown Minneapolis is now named George Floyd Square.  I fear that our youth will take this as another sign that lack of personal responsibility, even if it results in your own death, will be rewarded.  You don’t have to look any further than the recent shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio to see the how the knee jerk reactions of the press can flame the fires of hate and distrust in the police.  Even basketball player LeBron James was willing to overlook the fact that Bryant was actively trying to stab two other women at the time she was shot.  Following Bryant’s death James posted a photo of the police officer with the message “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY.”  The video of her shooting while unpleasant to watch, shows that the officer commanded her to stop and drop the knife.  The media and even James seem to believe that the officer should have waited until Bryant stabbed, and possibly killed one or both of the women before firing a shot.

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-19

It’s time to save lives, not put more in jeopardy

Where is personal responsibility?  Bryant was attempting to harm and possibly kill two other black women.  Why would we blame a police officer for saving the lives of two black women she was trying kill, are their lives less important than Bryant’s?  A report from 2016 found that 75% of those murdered in Chicago are black and that 71% of murderers in the city were black.  So, what’s happening today in Chicago, well 1,418 people have been shot this year. That is 166 more than 2020.  Almost all of these shootings were black on black violence.  Where is the personal responsibility and why aren’t we teaching our youth that this must end?  Why are so many working so hard to make excuses for often violent criminal behavior or simply ignoring it all together.

If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

1 Corinthians 3:17

Black youth can be successful, and I’ll prove it

Let me close by mentioning a few names:

·      Tyler Perry, United States

·      Ngina Kenyatta, Kenya

·      Jay-Z, United States

·      Folorunsho, Nigeria

·      Strive Masiyiwa, United Kingdom

·      Mo Ibrahinm, United Kingdom

·      Kanye West, United States

·      Mohammed Dewji, Tanzania

·      Michael Lee-Chin, Canada

·      Michael Jordan, Unites States

·      Isabel dos Santos, United Arab Emirates

·      Oprah Winfrey, Unites States

·      Patrice Motsepe, South Africa

·      David Steward, United States

·      Robert Smith, United States

·      Abdulsamad Rabiu, Nigeria

·      Mike Adenuga, Nigeria

·      Aliko Dangote, Nigeria

I go to the trouble of listing all of these black billionaires to make a point, the color of your skin does not hold you back.  Ambition, hard work and personal responsibility propel you forward.  One last note, 76% millionaires in the U.S. are white, and 8% are black.  This may seem skewed unless you consider that blacks make up 13% of the population. 

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

James 4:10

I‘m almost done, and I’ll prove it

My closing point is that in America you can be whatever you want to be.  Probably less than 1% the world’s richest and most successful blacks were born into wealth.  The reality is that if you look at each of these individuals, you’ll find that they come from mostly disadvantaged backgrounds.  You might also discover that they all had something in common, they were unwilling to let disadvantaged circumstances dictate their futures. These men and women worked hard for what they have gained. Each of them serves as a role model not just for black youth, but all youth.

Welcome to America

America is not the racists country some are working feverishly to project.  Yes, our country has a checkered past, but that same past has made us the most prosperous country on earth.  America remains the country of choice that people all across the globe want to immigrate too. No other country comes close. As Christians we must do our part to bring about civility, love our neighbors, and seek not to divide our country baseless claims.

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

Acts 17:26