- Theological Education
iPhone or Droid?
Right or wrong?
Oreos or Chocolate Chips?
Left or right?
Action Movies or Rom-Coms?
Facebook or Twitter?
Toilet paper over or under?
#BlackLivesMatter or #BlueLivesMatter?
Many folks think that the choices we have before us are simply binary choices– one or the other has to be our position (and truthfully the toilet paper roll placement may be absolute – it’s over, people, over).
But we do not have to choose one or the other the way that these options are often laid before us by pundits, politicians, and popular media outlets.
We do not have to automatically fall into the binary position that one group is good and another is bad. We don’t have to support one group of persons over and against another group simply because the powers that be want to force us into that binary.
I have worked for racial justice all of my adult life. I have been a supporter of #BlackLivesMatter since the beginning of the movement. And I have advocated for an end to the systemic racism that has impacted people of color disproportionally in our nation on many levels. These are non-negotiables in my life and in my ministry. The tragic results of racism in our midst has got to be eradicated. This is not ok.
I also have a nephew who is a police officer and I have several of friends who are police officers, as well. I love them and cherish them deeply. I believe that the vast majority of cops are and have been doing an excellent job. I pray for them and their brothers and sisters in blue every day. I mourned the deaths of police officers lost to attacks and ambushes in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Just this past week it happened again in San Diego and I was outraged at the senseless violence perpetrated against them. This is not the response that we need right now.
Yes, there is systemic racism that impacts all parts of our lives and it impacts the interactions of police and people of color way too often. The tragic killings of men and women of color has got to stop. Some bad cops have made bad decisions. Some scared cops have reacted poorly. And disproportionately people of color have been lost senselessly.
I can hold both of these positions. I’m a human being capable of multiple feelings and emotions. I’m an intelligent person who can discern and hold two things in tension at the same time.
I don’t believe that I have to be either #BlackLivesMatterOR #BlueLivesMatter. I don't have to throw my brothers and sisters of color under the bus in order to support those cops who are doing amazing community policing and building relationships with those they serve. I don’t have to throw all cops under the bus to support the needs of people of color who have been brutally beaten or killed in tragic and unprecedented conflicts with law enforcement.
Barack Obama said it well at the Democratic National Convention last week when he said, “Hillary knows we can work through racial divides in this country when we realize the worry black parents feel when their son leaves the house isn't so different than what a brave cop's family feels when he puts on the blue and goes to work; that we can honor police and treat every community fairly.” You may not support Hillary Clinton, but his sentiment is on point. I worry for my son’s black male friends and for my nephew in blue.
We can honor and care about both groups. Because we never know what’s going to happen next. We have to be prepared.
Our text for this week is about not giving into worldly fears and about the unexpected arrival of God in our lives.We’re called to be prepared so that when we are put to the test, when we are met with challenges, when God has need of us as proclaimers of the good news of love and grace –we are ready and unafraid to spread that news.
In the text, those waiting are held accountable for their actions and that’s what we need now. Accountability for our police policy and procedures. Accountability on all sides to develop relationships in communities of color with police.
The binary-focused folks in our world want to rob us of our collective humanity and collaborative work as part of the beloved community. They want to pit us against each other. They want us to think we cannot be part of positive and collaborative conversations. They try to stop us from moving into a better reality of who we can be as brothers and sisters.
We cannot fall into that trap. We can hold police accountable when things go horribly wrong. We can work to end systemic racism that impacts people of color. We can support the movement of #BlackLivesMatter.
And we can support community policing efforts that honor the best of who we can be together. We can support law enforcement officers going out daily to serve the public in positive ways. We can support officers and their families in powerful expressions of solidarity when violence strikes them. And we can support calls to reform the policies and procedures that can inflict harm. We can support #BlueLivesMatter.
Folks, we can do both. But we have to be ready to do the work. We have to keep prepared. In the text we are reminded that God can come to us at unexpected moments and we have to be prepared to act. When police are attacked we have to act to support them. When young black men are killed during encounters with police we have to act to demand accountability. We have to be ready. But we also have to do the work in the meantime – to change things both systemically and individually.
So what does it mean to hold the issues of our times in tension? How do we stay prepared for the coming of God in moments of need and anguish?
We keep the fires lit. We keep the lamps burning. We stay #woke. We work for change. We advocate for peace. We love each other – period.
There’s no binary to it.
Bible Study Questions:
- What do you do when met with simplistic binary questions or comments about the issues of our times? Can you/do you hold opposing positions in tension well? What does this look like for you?
- How do you respond when God calls you to spread the good news to all persons and to be prepared for that at any moment? Does all mean all for you? Your family? Your community of faith?
- How does the tension of #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter get lived out in your context? How can you support the movement to protect people of color from violence and support our community’s law enforcement officers who are doing important and affirming work?
For Further Reading:
Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter are not mutually exclusive. By Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/judicial/289201-black-lives-matter-and-blue-lives-matter-are-not-mutually
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