• Darrell Stetler II

Understanding Black Anger

One good thing God can bring out of the COVID-19 situation, is to help the white church understand the anger of people of color. I know that many white people are struggling to understand the level of anger that would bring African American people to riot, burn, and loot.

If you have a hard time understanding, give me 5 minutes, and let me try to put it in a way you can understand.

Imagine…

Imagine governors & local officials going beyond their mandate, and imposing extra burdens on freedoms you thought you were guaranteed in the Constitution. Imagine local law enforcement tackling people for something like not wearing a mask. Imagine no real recourse available. Imagine that police were far more likely to do this to evangelical Christians who looked like you. Imagine someone you knew had been jailed for it. Imagine they were killed in custody. Then imagine that nothing was done; the people responsible were never brought to justice.

And imagine that it happened again… and again. In other places, other states, other communities. Imagine that the public stories — the ones that got out — were reacted to with flippant excuses like, “Hey, if you don’t want to get arrested, wear the mask” by a percentage of the population.

Imagine that the public stories that managed to get out were dwarfed by the sheer volume of stories that were only known because they were whispered around kitchen tables. Imagine that DAs didn’t press charges. Imagine that the badges gave protection to bad actors. Imagine that this didn’t go on for 2 months of lockdown, but for decades… your entire lifetime… and for centuries.

How would you feel?

*THAT’S how people of color feel.*

Some of you have been protesting masks and closures peacefully (thus far). But we’re only 2 months in. What if it lasted years? What then?

I’ve seen your tweets & posts, Christians.

And I sympathize, and even agree with the overreaction you’re wrestling with. I sympathize with the weaponization of bureaucracy, the empowerment of small minded people to remove freedoms you treasure, and options you should have. But…

You have faced nothing — NOTHING — like those who have dealt with prejudice over the decades. And yet, after 2 months, you’re chafing under these restrictions. I would encourage you to meditate on this and let the Holy Spirit soak this truth down into your heart:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – MLK Jr.

Think on this:

If you were speaking with a pro-shutdown person who disagreed with you politically, and you wanted to tell them how they could understand your perspective & that of others like you, what would you tell them?

Here are 3 things I think you’d tell them:

1. LISTEN.

Go listen to those who have hurt because of the shutdown. Listen, don’t lecture or talk down. Hear their pain and don’t deny it to them. Wait – a long time – before suggesting reasons for their problem.

2. FEEL.

Put yourself and your family in their shoes. Imagine the pain of uncertainty about your children’s future. Imagine what you would do if you felt your children would never be able to return to what you’ve experienced as “normal” America… imagine what you’d feel & fear if lockdown was forever.

3. LOVE:

Let love motivate speaking and action. Be willing to call injustice what it is, and work for structural solutions to structural problems & spiritual solutions to spiritual problems. Let love inform your water cooler talk, the way you discuss, write posts, & vote.

So let’s do those things with our African American brothers & sisters… the things you would wish that people in power & people agitating for extended shutdowns… …would do for you.

Seems like what Jesus would encourage you to do.

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