Race Matters: Last Week & #Ferguson

My soul has been weary reading, watching, praying, and going from one emotional extreme to the other as I have watched the events transpire in #Ferguson over the past few days.

The facts that we know concerning this incident: For those who are not aware, on Saturday, August 9 a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed an unarmed 18 year old in Ferguson, Missouri, and the victim’s body was left lying in the streets for at least four hours. This African American young man, Michael Brown, was initially confronted for jaywalking. An autopsy report has confirmed that Michael was shot at least six times, including four times in his arm and a fatal shot to his head. The Ferguson Police Department has placed Officer Darren Wilson on paid administrative leave, have made no charges, and has not released an incident report concerning this fatal shooting.

Chart by Scott Bateman, featured on www.huffingtonpost.com
Chart by Scott Bateman, featured on http://www.huffingtonpost.com

 

What has happened since the incident: In spite of some reports, most of the citizens of Ferguson have shown up for days to exercise their right for freedom of assembly and they have been peaceful. Those protests have been met with infringement on those rights as police have used tear gear and rubber bullets against men, women, and children. Some of these scare tactics and imposed curfews have been received as oppressive by citizens who are angry at the injustice and want their voices heard. Some of them have retaliated, which unfortunately has caused some peaceful people to also suffer. #Ferguson has caused an uprising all across the country and the world!

Twitter: @zaytouni_rana Hamde Abu tells #Ferguson that #Palestine knows what it means to be shot for your ethnicity  3:15 PM - 14 Aug 2014
Twitter: @zaytouni_rana
Hamde Abu tells #Ferguson that #Palestine knows what it means to be shot for your ethnicity
3:15 PM – 14 Aug 2014

This is what we know right now.

The most accurate and up-to-date information (anything from reporting, live video feeds, photography, eye witness accounts, etc.) are happening on Twitter following the hashtag #Ferguson. This revolution is being televised! It has been interesting to see the contrast between what is reported from opinionated programing and what is being reported from the people who are actually on the ground. There is no doubt that some of the Twitter images dangerously resemble a war zone. There is no doubt that images from the Civil Rights Movement have been placed next to Ferguson images which make some black people feel like we are in a time warp.

Left, Whitney Curtis for The New York Times; right, Bill Hudson, via Associated Press (Published at the NY Times)
Left, Whitney Curtis for The New York Times; right, Bill Hudson, via Associated Press (Published at the NY Times)

Let there be no doubt. For many African Americans, this is not an isolated incident. This is a part of a very long narrative of the devaluing of a Black life, race relations, injustices and police brutality against African American people that is documented in this country. If you are not African American and have not seen or experienced this reality in your personal life, it is important to acknowledge that just because you haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean that it’s not happening. This is worthy read: 11 Things White People Should Stop Saying to Black People Immediately.

Left, Whitney Curtis for The New York Times; Right, Danny Lyon/Etherton Gallery (Published at NY Times)
Left, Whitney Curtis for The New York Times; Right, Danny Lyon/Etherton Gallery (Published at NY Times)

I am beyond dismayed that with the exception of a few organizations, my white Christian brothers and sisters have either chosen to get on the bandwagon of defaming Michael Brown’s character or simply being silent on this issue. Well, there’s this thing about Jesus, that he couldn’t remain silent when people were abusing children, or when religious and political structures cared more about the letter of the law than the healing and freedom of people. I’m not going to respond to questions that I don’t have the answer to, and I’m not going to wait until we know the whole story. I choose today to continue to stand on the side of Jesus.

Ferguson and Civil Rights 3

Today I have added my “Race Matters” board to Pinterest. It currently includes 126 posts about racial context, injustices, and reconciliation.  You can access it here: http://www.pinterest.com/asistasjourney/race-matters/

I will be adding more posts to the Pinterest board in the coming days. If you do not have a Pinterest account, then you can start education by clicking “Race” under the “Blog Categories” on the right hand side of this page.

I am so thankful that Christianity Today is currently running a “Race and the Church” series and I will be featured there next week. You can access the entire series here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/amyjuliabecker/2014/august/

The Missio Alliance is also running a series right now about unity in the church, and I will be featured there next month. You can access the series here: http://www.missioalliance.org/blog/

Today, I’m going to close with a very simple question, “How do these images make you feel?”

Please remember my Comment Policy.

© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2014

 

 

3 thoughts on “Race Matters: Last Week & #Ferguson

  1. Natasha, we are sickened and horrified. I have better information from your site than we have been able to get from the media.

    We are seeing deterioration in the way policing is being done here in Canada; we know how it feels to have our kids as 12-year-olds, targeted. Our sons have been brutally arrested by police for literally no reason. Once arrested, they become “subjects of police interest.” I know a woman who miscarried because of a policeman’s assault when she insulted him after he shoved her. Not that anti-black racism isn’t a fact in Canada, but it’s not at the same intense level of discrimination and murder as south of the border. Here, the police go after the poor, the disabled, the kids who have become marginalized for various reasons. Racial profiling was such an issue in Toronto that public pressure sharply reduced that form of police surveillance and abuse. We are more likely to see Aboriginals killed or abused or otherwise harmed. However, men, especially young men, have been targeted for the past 30 years by a law that is unconstitutional. As a man can be accused by his partner of anything from rape to assault without proof, he is unable to obtain a fair trial because you cannot prove a negative. We are getting a taste of what black people in the US have experienced for generations. Hundreds of men are going to jail in Canada for crimes they did not commit. Another unconstitutional law is being passed here that regards prostitutes as “victims,” which will up the ante against another category of males. Rampant feminists are behind these unconstitutional laws and they are gloating. On any whim, a woman can call the police and have a partner or any male standing in her vicinity thrown into jail. In a “he said, she said” situation, the male has no recourse. Watching our son’s travesty of a trial — and ironically he was represented by a black attorney who ought to have a sharper conscience — was not only dreadful personally, but broke my heart for the injustice that has become entrenched in our legal system. You are not alone in your anger and frustration and grief. We pray. We stand with you. We are not untouched by the evil embedded in twisted beliefs, police brutality, and unjust legal systems. Stay close to Jesus.

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing your concerns, Laurna. There are certainly enough injustices in the world to pray about and to take proper action as God so leads. One note I wanted to make in reference to your comment: You may notice from other pieces on the blog that in addition to writing, I am also a human trafficking advocate. I work with local and the International Justice Mission to stand against this horrible crime against humanity. Concerning prostitution, we have found that many enter into the “business” as a result of human trafficking, and therefore, are “victims” and should not be treated as criminals themselves. I’m sure you can find several creditable organizations that provide information which connects human trafficking to this crime. Blessings to you, Natasha

      1. Yes, I am aware of human trafficking and I agree that such women are victims. But the world of prostitution is broader than that type of trafficking. The women I know or read about who prostitute themselves use economic issues most frequently as their justification for their “business.” Another group is addicts using sex to support their addictions. Some women simply find prostitution more lucrative than anything else they can think of doing to earn money. Legislation should take the entire spectrum of sex-for-money into consideration, not base a law for every citizen on a particular sector of the population. Canada used to base legislation on the concept of “consenting adults.” I am not sure how to address some situations through legal channels that are far from Christian; but a law that penalizes men just because they are men is not the answer, especially when they have no recourse to a fair trial under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Surely, we need to remedy root causes of all types of prostitution, rather than to rely on inadequate legislation.

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