From Pastor Leggett – A Conversation with My Black Son
A Conversation with My Black Son
I want to tell you as your father that I am frustrated, angry, and my heart is heavy that you and I are having this conversation again. I am angry and frustrated because in 2016, we should not be having this conversation. I am very frustrated having to remind you again that you are a black man, and society has created a boundary around you, one in which they have set the norms and expectations. (with the help of the media). Society expects you to be a violent and aggressive black man, to be involved in a gang, the drug trade, to go to prison, to abandon your family, and to die young; so when you are stopped by a police officer you won’t have time to tell them that you are a Christian, a recent college graduate planning to go to law school. You just put both hands on the steering wheel and make sure that they are visible for the officer to see. Don’t make any sudden moves, be respectful and respond with “Yes Sir” and “No Sir” and under no circumstances do you argue or show any disrespect even if you are disrespected. Why are we having this conversation again you might ask, it’s because I want you to live! The first time we had this conversation I told you that I am passing down to you what has been passed down to me from your great uncles. Our uncles grew up in a time when a black man had to always be aware of their surroundings and their conversations. Because when driving in the south, often they would get pulled over by white police officers and if they wanted to live to see another day, they needed to know how to properly respond with the right tone of voice; so they would make sure that they responded to the police officers’ questions with “Yes Sir!” and “No Sir!” I have shared with you about my first encounter with a police, officer and what hurt me the most in that encounter is the fact that he saw me as a suspect because of the color of my skin. I know it’s crazy that we are having this conversation again, this should be something for the history books, not a current strategy to make it home safely. I want you to remember our conversation about Eric Holder the once Attorney General, the most powerful law enforcement official in the nation. He has two Ivy League degrees, he’s served as a judge and as a federal prosecutor, and yet, despite all of his accomplishments and authority, even he once was stopped by a police officer while simply running to a catch a movie in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Remember the Leonard Pitts article in Kansas City Star Press? He reminded us that Tamir Rice, a 12-year old kid was shot for holding a toy gun, but Joseph Houseman, a 63-year old white man who stood on the street in Kalamazoo, MI with a rifle in his hands and when the police arrived, he refused to identify himself, he gave them the middle finger, and he cursed them out. Did they feel threatened and shoot him down on the spot? No… they spent 40 minutes talking him down, eventually convincing him to hand over the rifle peacefully. In fact, not only was Joseph Houseman not shot, he wasn’t even arrested. Not only was he not shot or arrested, he was given back his gun the very next day! Something in seriously wrong with America when being black is a crime.
When you first got your driver’s license, I wasn’t worried about the high cost of auto insurance or what kind of car would be best for you to drive, I was concerned and I still am about what you might experience while driving black.
We live in a broke nation. Our justice system is broken. Do you know that white Americans use drugs more than black Americans? But black people are arrested for drug possession more than three times as often as whites are arrested. Our Education system is broken; our kids are not broken it is the system that is broke! Black and Latino students are more likely to attend poorly funded schools than are whites.
It saddens me to tell you that because you are a black man, there will be those who will not see your value, and sometimes it will be those wearing blue police uniforms. Even though this may be the case, what is important is that you value yourself. God Values You. The bible says, you are made in the image of God. The bible tells us in Psalm 139:14 that you are fearfully and wonderful made. You have gifts talents and abilities, you are an innovator, you are a creator, you were made to provide, to protect, you are a poet, a prophet, you have unlimited potential. Now that you know that your life has value it is important that you value the life others. In other words, not only do black lives matter, but so do blue lives. A strong man stands up for himself; a stronger man stands up for others. The bible commands us to rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Remember those officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, pray for their families. Remember that they have families that want them to return home safe.
Romans 13 tell us that Police officers are ordained by God. So we must not see all Police officers as bad; but we should honor and respect the 99% who honor the uniform and reject the 1% percent who dishonor the uniform.
Son, there will be times when the demands of civil law conflict with your conscious, and when that happens let love be your Guide. There will even be times when your theology conflicts with your feelings, but remember Jesus never did anything out of hate but everything he did was out of love.
Son, it is understandable for whites as well as blacks to cry out, “we want justice and we want it now” because so many people feel they are suffering unjustly. The trouble with such justice and fairness is that, if it were truly just and truly fair and as prompt as we demand it, all of us would soon be begging for mercy, for love, for forgiveness—for anything but justice.
Another note about justice is, it is interesting that as black people, when a police officer is the shooter we want justice, but when we are in the streets shooting each other daily we hear no cries for justice, there are no protestors saying black lives matter.
In closing, we have heard for years that there has been another shooting, there has been another protest. No indictment, no justice. There has been another shooting, there has been another protest. No indictment, no justice. I don’t know what the outcome will be this time. But do not lose hope for despair. Despair is a serious problem, one not to be taken lightly. It is damaging to our health, our society, and our relationship with God. Some people result to violence because they are full of despair. I want you to know that there are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them. When you feel despair about the future you must remember FAITH IN JESUS HELPS US TO OVERCOME DESPAIR.
Son, when you experience despair fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our Faith who for the joy set before him, endured the cross scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of throne of God.
Jesus knows about justice. (John 5:30) I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
He knows about racial tension. (Luke 10: 25-37) He teaches us by way of The parable of the Good Samaritan that racial tension should never be an issues or excuse not to show love and mercy.
Jesus knows about being wrongfully treated (1 Pet 2:21–24). The bible tells us that he was wrongly treated. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
Jesus knows about surprise tragedy and perishing souls. When asked about the Death of Galileans I paraphrase (Luke 13: 1-5) he said this is not time to debate how and why they died, this is time for you to search your own hearts and make sure that you are right with God.
Jesus knows about suffering. (Isaiah 53:5) The bible says, he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Jesus knows our weaknesses, and he knows how to sympathize with us (Heb 4:15) For the bibles says for we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Jesus knows how to show mercy to criminals, (Rom 5:6–8). For the bible says just at the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus knows about living in a wicked world (John 1:10) He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
He knows about dying at the hands of wicked men (Acts 2:23). Peter remind us This man Jesus was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
And he knows about the glories of heaven, He told John to write that heaven is the place that God himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes, where there will be no more death, no mourning, no crying, no pain (Rev 21:3–4)—where everyone is invited to take refuge with God.
Son, not if, but when you feel despair take out your IPhone or IPad and google the name “Thomas Dorsey” he wrote about how to handle despair:
“Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand; I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord; Lead me home.
When my way grows drear, Precious Lord, linger near, when my life is almost gone, hear my cry, hear my call; Hold my hand lest I fall. Take my hand, precious Lord; Lead me home.”
Your Loving Father