My son is black. This is a reality that I live with everyday. Yes, those of you who know him see him in much more complex ways. You may see his amazing smile and his joy for life. You will often see the way he loves deeply and cares for everyone he meets. You may even be fortunate enough to see his respect for elders and his desire to please everyone around him. You might even see his unquenchable desire to succeed and his character in the face of difficult circumstances. But I see all of this and yet I still have to recognize that what many people first see when they see my son is a young black man. And so some people, especially those in authority, perceive him as a threat just by looking at him. This is why what is happening in our nation right now is so important and this is why it is so important to keep saying Black Lives Matter and to keep this in front of our faces.
I remember when the Black Lives Matter movement arose in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting. I thought to myself, this is important, but I can’t be a part of it. Why?!? Because of the system I belonged to. You see, I was employed by the church. And in the church there are many powerful forces at work and if I began to become active in this movement I would have found myself without a job and my family would have been without a breadwinner. Think about that for a minute. My son is black. And yet, if I had become outspoken in the Black Lives Matter movement I would have more than likely found myself looking for a new way to feed my family.
In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul famously writes, “We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens.” Ephesians 6:12 CEB Paul spoke these words in chains not against the humans that imprisoned him, but against the systems, the rulers and authorities that held those humans under their sway. And how deep are these rulers, authorities and forces…? Well they kept me silent in the church when my own son was black. But now, I am unfettered. Now I can see. Now I will not stop, I will not be silent and I will stand beside, for and if needs be in front of my son and any who share his melanin. The Unites States is unjust towards the black community. The white evangelical church is unjust towards the black community. And it is high time we all get comfortable with the truth in these three words, Black Lives Matter!