Find a Way
I tried very hard to write something meaningful and worthwhile about the tragedies that have occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. I failed.
I couldn't effectively write about my frustration and anger about how the militarization of the police or the war on drugs had affected American neighborhoods. Every time I tried to, I saw in my mind Lt. Shackleford of the Abilene Police Department walking hand-in-hand through the Alameda neighborhood with a Black preschooler during a community parade. I heard Chief Standridge fielding hard questions about Biased-Based Policing to local concerned citizens. I have seen so much good out of them, deep put-myself-in-uncomfortable-and-dangerous-situations-because-I-love-the-folks-I-serve good, that I can't find words to critique the police that don't feel like they fly in the face of my lived experience.
And yet, how can I say nothing when a community is hurting so badly? How could I suggest to the Black community that there's nothing wrong or that nothing needs to change? How dare I advocate for waiting for things to slowly get better, when I know my wife and I will almost certainly never receive the call that one of our future children was shot. I cannot ignore that friends have explained how they have been profiled in stores, on the streets, and in churches. I have watched the look of sad resignation on mentors' faces when they recount how they have been spoken down to, passed over for promotions, and treated unfairly. There is a heavy burden being carried by a lot of folks who don't look like me, and adding an eighteen year old soon-to-be freshman to the load is just too much to bear for many. I have no right to tell them that it's not so bad, and that they should just deal with it quietly.
So my prayer tonight, my challenge tonight, is to find ways to make it better. Find a way. Find a bunch of ways. Find a way while sitting down with someone from a different race than you. Find a way with someone who places the blame differently than you. Find a way that doesn't demonize and doesn't patronize.
We can't control what's going on in Ferguson. But we can find a way to prevent Abilene from becoming Ferguson. I know for a fact that there are strong leaders in the Black community and within the Abilene Police Department who are working to make our community more safe and more united. Let's join in, and together find ways to make Abilene a better place for us all.