Tag Archives: society

The Fury Behind the Furor

In the wake of the Zimmerman verdict (not guilty), I found myself in quiet reflection, wondering why exactly this case bothered me. Black children (children of all races, actually) die tragically and unjustly every day and yet those don’t bother me. As a side note, that’s a sad indictment of me and my indifference to human suffering. Still, why did Zimmerman’s verdict stick with me for some time?

Two things disturb me greatly, three make me angry (with apologies to the Hebrew poets for borrowing their literary convention): the deafening silence from the evangelical community, the counterattack by non-blacks who suggest that racial disparities don’t exist, and the reminder that my son will grow up in a hostile legal system.

  1. To be fair, some evangelicals did respond. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary, had a great blog post where he recognized that his talk with his son will be different than mine. The Gospel Coalition had several people reflect on the results (although at first blush, many seem to be African-American bloggers). However, in the conservative evangelical circles that I live day-to-day, life moved on. I heard more people talk about their planned missions trips overseas than about the death of a teenager killed while standing his ground against a stranger. By implication and action, the (mostly Caucasian) people around me simply didn’t care that Trayvon died. Predictably, only the few African-Americans in my circle found the results disturbing, and all of us for similar reasons.
  2. It didn’t help that, pretty consistently, when African-Americans brought up the racial disparities, the public has responded that (a) racism doesn’t exist, nor does injustice nor white privilege. Unfortunately, the record of Supreme Court decisions indicates that the courts have consistently ruled against fairness for African-Americans and, as just one example, even the U.S. Higher-Education System Perpetuates White Privilege. In other words, our social and legal system are document-ably against African-Americans. Telling me that it’s just my imagination that women in the place that I work and live clutch their purses when I’m around and move between me and their children, or tell their daughters they’re not allowed to be romantically involved with me (an actual experience for me, circa 2008) doesn’t help .
  3. It bothers me that I have to explain to my son one day that the reason that parents snatch up their kids when he goes to the park and suddenly leave, or move to swings on the opposite side of the park (both true, actual, experiences within the last three months of this writing) is because of his skin color. If he stands up for himself, the public and the law will first vilify him and then justify his attacker. In spite of the guaranteed constitutional rights, the courts will not support or protect him in many cases, or it will take years before the courts recognize the wrongs perpetuated against him.

And that makes me angry.


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An Open Letter to the Lady Sharing the Elevator

Dear Lady on the Elevator:

I acknowledge the possibility that your parent(s) did not teach you propriety and common courtesy, but I wanted to inform you that Western culture considers it rude when you refuse to acknowledge someone’s presence, especially when they acknowledge yours first. I also recognize that you seem to have some perception of danger seeing as how you’ve (a) clutched your purse tightly to your body in a protective manner and (b) physically moved in between me and your child.

Nevermind that my own child is currently perched on my shoulders, or in the case that he is elsewhere, that I belong here in this building. As you may recall, you had to enter this building by first going through a locked gate and then through a locked set of doors, and there are cameras in the lobby and outside, meaning my image was recorded the entire time. That aside, my manner of dress suggests I belong here since, every day, I wear a collared shirt, slacks, belt, and dress shoes—business attire. Most often I have a computer bag on my shoulder. In fact, I am most often better dressed than most of the gentlemen in the building (by other people’s comments, not my own observation).

This leads naturally into my next point. Everyone who has residence in this building is either a student of the seminary or a spouse of a student. In fact, I am both, in addition to being an employee of the seminary. As such, I now have three reasons to belong in this elevator with you. While we can’t make too many hard assumptions, one can reasonably guess that as an employee, student, and spouse, I have been vetted by the seminary as having decent character (actually, the seminary ran a background check on me as an employee, which is more than I can say for your spouse).

As such, I can’t help but wonder that the reason for your reaction toward me has something to do with the only thing different about me that you can see: my skin color. You should know that I have somewhat of a mean streak when it comes to these kinds of reactions. The more you ignore me and act rudely, the nicer I will act toward you. In fact, I am now inclined to go out of my way to display polite behavior and engage in considerate public discourse with you. It’s not going to stop until you acknowledge that (a) I am a human being and that (b) I belong here. You may feel differently about it, but I’m sorry to report that my spouse, the school, and my employer all politely disagree with you.

Interestingly, according to the FBI, by percent and by number, you’ll more likely be the victim of a crime caused by someone who looks more like you than me. Except gambling; evidently the numbers say I’m highly likely to commit crimes of gambling against you. But that’s okay: you may continue to be rude as long as I can continue to make you uncomfortable by treating you with dignity.

With great irony,


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