For the last year, I have been wading into the swampy mess of American race relations. Like all good swamps, the water is murky, every step you take comes with danger of being attacked, and visibility is limited. But I’m still moving through it.
Now, I invite you to join me, white friends. Come on in, the water’s fine.
In the past year, after watching video after video of African American men dying at the hands of police officers, I began to slowly (far too slowly) admit to myself that something was wrong. Why were there so many accounts of this type of interaction? Why were black people always filming interactions with police? Could I be missing something that all my African American brothers and sisters were seeing?
So I started exploring and listening.
And I started changing my perceptions.
I want to help you do the same. So I will simply share some of the resources I found helpful to hear and see what was hidden by my own biases.
So here are a few helpful resources. Take your time. And listen. Really listen.
First, I found these episode of This American Life to be incredibly helpful as a starting point. If you are not familiar with This American Life, consider this your most excellent introduction.
Cops See It Differently, Part 1
Cops See It Differently, Part 2
Second, this talk, given by Dr. Carl Ellis, Jr, at a Desiring God Conference opened my eyes like nothing else. I wrote a resource round-up article when I first began processing these issues, and I wrote a follow up after having digested the Dr. Ellis’s talk. But you should just watch the talk for yourselves. It truly helped me see what racism looks like to the marginalized in society, and I finally had a framework to discuss racism in a way that made sense. This is a must watch.
Third, this post from Thabiti Anyabwile was incredibly helpful as it exposed some of the same pointless maxims that get thrown around every time a police shooting occurs. Sort of like approaching someone grieving the death of their spouse and assuring them that God works all things for good. You might have said something true, but it shed no new light, did not erase the pain of the event itself, and reeks of dismissively hollow sympathy.
Fourth, for those struggling to understand the #BlackLivesMatter movement, check out this talk given by Dr. Mika Edmondson at a Gospel Coalition leadership gathering. It is powerful delivered. And it is deeply informative as well. You can read or listen to the address.
Fifth, is a follow up to the fourth. Dr. Albert Mohler penned a response to Dr. Mika Edmondson’s address, and it is worth reading as a reasoned response from someone in the dominant culture, affirming the need to recognize the voices of the subdominant culture.
Sixth, check out Skin In the Game, a discussion on race hosted and led by Andy Stanley at his church. If you are looking for an insight into the difference in how the black community interacts with police compared to white people’s interaction, this talk illustrates those differences incredibly well.
My goal with this article is that some of those in the dominant culture of white America will begin to open their eyes to the reality of racial oppression. I am not trying to place blame, or solve the problem. I am simply trying to help you see the problem. My prayer is that seeing will lead to solving, but let’s at least see.