It was overwhelmingly progressive white twenty-somethings doing the damage across America these past few days. They hijacked the peaceful protests of black America seeking justice and led marauding gangs out to vandalize, pillage, and destroy.
That should tell us all something about race and justice in America. There were certainly black Americans engaged in the destruction, but in city after city it was mostly young white men picking up the first bricks and lighting the first fires.
Ponder that for just a minute with me. Let’s ignore, for a minute, the false claims that these are white supremacist Trump supporters. They weren’t. They were mostly the black clad thugs of Antifa and a bunch of teen and twenty-somethings who’ve been cooped up and unemployed for a few months. But just ponder this with me.
Let’s not deny that black citizens engaged in destruction and looting. But let’s also consider how much more likely it is that they will face consequences for their actions than the white millennials who will not.
And that’s the problem we are dealing with.
When Michael Brown, in Ferguson, MO committed his crime in a convenience store and then charged a cop, he was killed by the police. When Dylan Roof shot up a church in Charleston, SC, the police bought him Burger King afterwards.
I don’t like the phrase “white privilege.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel privileged. I am still paying off loans for college. I’ve busted my butt to get where I am. That’s not privilege. That’s hard work. I find the whole idea of white privilege to be as offensive an idea as policing the black community more strictly than the white community because of collective color.
If we are a society of individuals, I do not think we can claim one race has more privilege than the other because each individual’s story is unique. If we aren’t to judge anyone by the color of their skin, that means anyone.
So I have to reject the idea of white privilege.
But let’s not reject reality.
The reality is both white and black people are subject to police brutality, but few white parents have to talk to their kids about encounters with cops. When white people have “the talk,” it’s about mom and dad not becoming grandparents sooner than they want. When black people have “the talk,” it’s about mom and dad trying to get their kids to live long enough to produce grandchildren.
That’s reality. It is a reality that should not need a video of George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery to tell us we still fall short as a nation. We don’t need red pills or blue pills as a nation. We need Jesus. But our society keeps getting further and further from him.
I grieve that we are not in a place right now where the President of the United States can address the nation and calm us. I grieve that we are in a place so divided and tribal that we only want to see the people on the other side trying to tear us apart and not the wolves on our own side. I grieve that the national media would rather play up claims of white supremacists burning down Targets this weekend instead of acknowledging the violence that is inherent in Antifa. I grieve that there are no voices nationally to help the nation heal as we are so divided. I grieve.
We need to recognize it is not enough for us to acknowledge that black Americans and white Americans live different lives and are confronted by society in ways that are often far harsher to black Americans. We need to stop throwing up excuses that this is so because of our various notions of how black society functions differently. We need to make it stop and we need to be helping hand.
Black churches and white churches all worship the same God from the same Bible, but emphasize different syllables of faith. Black Americans and white Americans all say the same pledge of allegiance, but put emphasis on different parts of our shared story and the history of America has been far less kind to the story of black America.
A government and a society that has turned a blind eye for so long is not going to offer a solution. A society where a white kid can throw a brick through a window in the name of racial justice while likely facing far less consequence than a black kid doing the same is not a society where we can ever governmentally arrive at a real solution to the problem. So many of the proposed governmental solutions are just rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship or trying to throw around money to wash their hands of the problem.
The solution is going to come individually and over time with you and me committed to loving our neighbors as ourselves, teaching our children to love and appreciate the different syllables of the American experience, and being friends with people who do not look, think, or vote like us.
You and I can resist the blame game. We can resist the idea some would claim that it is our fault or we are culpable or we are privileged in some way. We can resist all of that, but we must also acknowledge reality — some of us, often because of our color, will see different outcomes at the hand of government and society than those with a different color.
Scripture calls us to be more like Christ. With Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek nor male nor female nor slave nor free. There is the fellowship of believers. Just as we individually experience our walk with Christ, we need to individually love our neighbors and show Christ to them and experience Christ from them.
We will not get solutions to these problems that are, at root, sin based on a government-run by sinners. But we can call for repentance and demand our government have higher standards.