In the swirling, emotion charged conversations about race and law enforcement and justice, I, like many of you, have asked some self-reflective questions.  What do I think about all of this?  Does one man’s brutal murder deserve such national outrage? Is there really such a bias toward minorities, particularly blacks?  Am I racist if I don’t agree?  And I think that a lot of us hear the volume and think, “Well, I am grateful I am not racist.  I grew up with black friends, Hispanic friends.” And then we pull out the big gun and say, “I am color blind. I don’t even notice what color someone is”.  By color blind, we mean, “I see everyone the same. There is no difference to me what color someone is”..  But, is the goal to be color blind?
I am realizing that in saying we are color blind, we may not be realizing the real issue.  To our black friend, (or brown or anything other than white)  they are NOT color blind, because their color  has profoundly influenced their life, and still does.  For them, there really is a systemic, cultural reality to their color.  You may be color blind, or at least try to be.  But, much of our world and system is not.  And so, your friend sees their color, their children will see their color, because they are reminded of the impact of it in ways we may have no idea of.
This was brought home to me in a variety of conversations this week.  It happened in conversations with pastors I know and love. I would serve with them on a church staff in a heart beat.  They are hurting.  They told me (and other pastors of our tight prayer group) of how much they have been reminded of stories of their own lives (up to this very day) where they suffered humiliation, fear, and real abuse because of their color.  Their respect for authority, their obedience to Romans 13 (obey those in authority) is without hesitation, but, they face honest fear, in the face of the system of justice.   Now… they have police officers in their churches. They would be the first to defend the notion that there are countless “good cops”.  But, there is a conviction that they are viewed as less thans in the system of justice.  I had a conversation with a deeply intelligent, soft spoken, well read African American man, who I consider a friend.  He made an astonishing statement to me, after watching the news throughout the week (not just the George Floyd travesty, but the response to the protesters, etc). He said, “Pastor Mark, I asked myself, who am I in the eyes of the justice system of our country?  And I concluded, ‘I am less than human’”. Now, you may say, “Well, that is an over reaction!”  But, brothers and sisters, we must be listeners.   Don’t think you get it, and that you don’t need to learn because you have friends and buddies who are black and you see them as great people.  We need to see more. We need to see their color, and not be blind to it, because they are not, nor is the world they have to face.
I received today an article that my good friend, Pastor Cedrick Brown wrote.  He is a local pastor, and the Area Superintendent for the Evangelical Free Churches of this area.  I hope you will read it.
Mark Willey