Your Racism Is on Camera
"AMERICA, THE WORLD IS WATCHING!"
This is the caption I read recently on an Instagram post regarding the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th. The post was shared by one of my friends who I met in South Korea this previous year—he is from the country of Kazakhstan. The world really is watching.
If you are still under the impression that racism is not alive and active in our world today, you are sadly mistaken.
A quote from an interview that Will Smith did in 2016 has also become a frequently shared post as our world has continued grieving George Floyd's death, "Racism is not getting worse, it's getting filmed" (https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/will-smith-colbert-race-relations-obama-politics-sings-summertime-916816). The world watched George Floyd breathe his last breaths, echoing the same words that Eric Garner had said in his final moments in 2014 in New York City, "I can't breathe."
Will Smith's words and George Floyd's face have consumed my thoughts over the last nine days. I have seen countless posts from the white community apologizing to the black community for injustices that they have been forced to live with all of their lives. I am so incredibly sorry as well, but I also want you to know that I am unbelievably angry for you too; I am angry that it has taken this long for people to understand #BlackLivesMatter, that so many lives have been lost due to racism and fear, and that this keeps happening.
The anger that is felt in this situation is righteous anger. If you have never heard of righteous anger, it is the anger that is felt as a result of the mistreatment of another. In the Church, it is often used to describe what Jesus was feeling when He saw people being taken advantage of in the temple courts by vendors who were selling offerings meant for God in order to make a profit for themselves (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18). As a result of this injustice, Jesus shut those businesses down. He literally flipped their tables and chased them away, saying "Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it 'a den of robbers'" (Mark 11:17 NIV).
The result of Jesus making this powerful statement: "The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching" (Mark 11:18 NIV).
I have been appalled at the amount of people I have seen posting negatively about the riots that have been taking place all over the country. The murder of George Floyd alone should be enough justification for the righteous anger that we should all feel regarding the systemic racism that we have allowed to perpetuate our society for far too long—but it's not just George Floyd. It is the righteous anger that has been building up for years from the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, of Breonna Taylor, of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, of every single black individual whose life has been taken at the hands of a system that was built to "Protect and Serve" them, but failed them instead. As Albert Einstein famously stated, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results." Something has to change.
The world is watching us right now because the way we handle racism in our country will affect how racism is going to be handled all over the world. We live in a country that was literally built upon challenging authority. It is what we do. Racism is a cancer that survives and thrives in places where it can remain hidden and unchallenged—in the depths of one's heart, in places with no access to cameras, and in countries where people do not have the freedom to challenge it. We must continue to fight to bring racism to the light so that it can be challenged and extinguished—everywhere in the world.
Sure, racism will always be lurking in the hearts of many who have no desire to eliminate it from their lives, but it is important that we still work to make it uncomfortable for them. We can choose not to laugh when a racist joke is made. We can recognize when injustice has taken place. We can put down the camera and step in to save a life, even when it puts our own lives at risk. We can donate to organizations that have been tirelessly fighting this fight for years (you can find some of these organization at the conclusion of this post if you would like to donate). We can turn the tables on racism.
Lawyer and author Bryan Stevenson who wrote Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, a book I highly recommend to you as our country continues working towards justice by fixing our system, says it best in his book, “We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others. The closer we get to mass incarceration and extreme levels of punishment, the more I believe it's necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and-perhaps-we all need some measure of unmerited grace.”
Let us all continue to work towards that realization for our own country and for all countries as we move forward. We have a lot of work to do, but justice is worth it. Mercy is worth it. Love, compassion, and kindness are all worth it. We must stand up for our brothers and sisters because only love can drive out hate. The world is watching.
Organizations To Donate To:
Campaign Zero (https://www.joincampaignzero.org/)
George Floyd Memorial Fund (https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd)
Minnesota Freedom Fund (https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/)
Unicorn Riot (https://unicornriot.ninja/)
National Bail Out (http://nationalbailout.org/)
James Davisson is just a small man with a big heart, serving a much bigger God.