A white police officer yelling at black and brown teens, telling them to sit down, to leave, to get down, to disperse. Officer chases young black men. Officer forces black teenage girl to the ground, by her hair and neck, and then holds her there with his knee in her back. Teen girl has empty hands and is wearing a bikini. White adult males mill around and do not intervene with the officers or attempt to console and assist any of the teenagers present.
Year: 1954 1968 2015
Think of the friends of the paralytic man in Mark 2. They couldn’t get the healing, the help, the relief needed for their friend by getting him through the door. They couldn’t wait for it to come to them. The option that seemed clearest was to tear the roof off the house. Rip up the clay, the leaves, the hardened mud, and straw. Rain down dirt clods and stick scraps on the (self) righteous leaders gathered below. Raise the roof and get this done. Now.
The time has come to do the same in this country.
Silence is complicity. Waiting is criminal (aiding and abetting). Victim blaming is shameful.
We who have the privilege of white skin, light skin, money, placement, opportunity, platform, or otherwise must raise the roof on racism in the country. We have to tear out the mud of a system that paralyzes and ignores the plight of millions. We who can, not only should, but must.
Respect is not a zero-sum game. No one loses by acknowledging that black and brown lives matter.
Many people have been molested by priests and other clergy. Every incident, exposed or covered up, makes my job harder. It makes me feel like I am climbing a mountain that gets steeper and higher every time. Additionally, for people close to an incident, I seem like an outlier, because their own perspective creates a reality for them that most clergy are untrustworthy.
Similarly, many people have good experiences with police officers, but for those that don’t- it is very hard to trust anyone who resembles the authority figure(s) who hurt you. In this case, the officer in question is *technically* doing his job and, yes, we don’t know all of the story.
However, we do know the prevalence of racial injustice across this country and, particularly, within the police and judicial systems. We do know that this country has a history of racial violence and of the “majority” culture arguing for “justice” in the form of silence, “waiting”, or victim-blaming. We do know that the people of color are often told or expected to act in ways that conform with white expectations (“articulate, clean”, etc), but those expectations are ever moving goal posts.
There comes a time when all of that must be addressed and redressed.
That time has come.
Sometimes it calls for inflammatory language, tears, yelling, and dramatic acts. It calls for real action, real risk, and real conversation.
How long until we are tired enough of seeing police officers brutalize, humiliate, shame, and degrade persons of color before we’ve had enough? We have a social institution built on snap judgment, racist determination, self-aggrandizing attitudes, and “protect our own” reality. This is a house that corrupts almost all who enter and most who live within its contaminating walls.
Are we ready to get our hands dirty by tearing off the roof?