I never thought I was treated any differently, but I’m learning that being a straight, white male has its benefits.
When I first heard Treyvon Martin’s story on the news I thought he may have been acting suspiciously and created room for his killing.
When I first heard Eric Garner’s story on the news I thought he may have been resisting, but that didn’t make sense if he couldn’t breathe.
When I first heard Michael Brown’s story on the news I thought he must have threatened the cop and endangered his life.
When I first heard Philando Castile’s story on the news I thought he might’ve spooked the cop, but didn’t appear to have displayed any threatening behavior.
When I first heard Charles Kinsey’s story on the news I began to suspect something might actually be wrong with the system because he was clearly acting in compliance.
All the while, my brothers and sisters of color were crying out for justice and I thought they were mostly overreacting. I thought these were isolated incidents of misunderstanding.
The problem is that these cases keep piling up. Maybe it’s just the internet age where “if it bleeds, it leads” or maybe the culture has led us to be more suspicious of non-whites than whites.
As time progresses, I lean more and towards the latter.
Obviously each case is unique and should be carefully scrutinized, but there’s an overall sense of inequality.
I can’t imagine having to give my children step by step instructions on how to interact with the police. I never really needed them myself. I always assumed my respectful demeanor is what eliminated any obvious concern on the face of an approaching officer, but was it really that simple? Would I be as (relatively) comfortable in the same situation if I appeared to be more ethnic?
I’m thinking not.
We’ve seen a great number of peaceful protests ranging from marches (although admittedly a small minority of protestors have turned to violence) to kneeling during the National Anthem. Those that take issue with these protests seem to never find a satisfactory avenue by which the message should be proclaimed.
I can see where kneeling during the National Anthem can be perceived as an affront to our nation, but it was always accompanied with an explanation and even was suggested by a service member.
These are just a few of the many examples of inequality I have had to confront within my own self over the last few years. I haven’t even mentioned LGBT or women’s issues that also cry for our attention.
We have certainly come a long way as a nation and a culture since the days of slavery, but it’s OK to admit we still have a long ways to go. I, for one, am willing to listen and help any way I can. I can only hope that my fellow melanin-challenged brothers and sisters will at least attempt to do the same.
What I hope to see a lot more of is honest conversation like the panel from the BadChristian Conference (skip to 30:22 of their podcast episode #353).