By Charlsi Lewis Lee
Disclaimers: I do not live in Ferguson, Missouri. I do not identify as African American. I am pale and Caucasian and middle class living in South City St. Louis.
I am also angry and heartbroken. I am discouraged and saddened. And I am full of tears.
Driving to work today, I took the long way. It's the way I go to work when I know that I need to slow down and take a deep breath. This route is off the interstate, running through an extremely wealthy city in St. Louis County. It is beautiful.
But . . . there is no one out on the perfectly manicured lawns. There are no tear gas containers lying in the middle of the street. There are not excessively well-armed police officers forming a line with armored trucks leading the way forward. And there certainly is not a young unarmed black man lying in the middle of the street with six bullet wounds.
I am angry.
I am angry that it's so easy for us to separate ourselves from the struggles of those whose skin appears different.
I am angry that I cannot even imagine what it is like for a person of color to stroll down the street, or walk through a store, or drive through an unknown, predominantly white neighborhood.
I am angry that as much as I love and celebrate diversity in this world, in my city, in my life . . . I am still afraid.
This week the words “white privilege” have been bandied about in blogs and articles. So, I might as well jump on the band wagon. I am afraid that my “white privilege” allows me to ignore the realities of life for young men and women like Mike Brown.
I am afraid that I will allow myself to get too comfortable in my “white privilege” to even recognize it for what it is.
I am afraid that more young black men have to die ridiculous deaths before the majority of us with “white privilege” will stand up and speak out.
But somewhere deep down inside me I think I am hopeful. I am hopeful that the angel’s words, Christ’s words and God’s words “Do not be afraid” will become manifest in me and in all of us.
I'm hopeful that we will be so outraged by the injustice and pain of racism that we will step out on faith and hold onto one another.
I have hope that those who perpetrate injustice on others will be shut down because they will be called out by our weeping voices singing the songs of our faith.
I have hope that God’s love is stronger than our hate.
That God’s grace is bigger than our misunderstanding.
That God’s forgiveness is bigger than our sin.
I have hope that those of us who forget that we are privileged because we are white, and that those of us who don’t recognize that privilege, will both take the difficult lessons we're learning in Ferguson as a lesson in faith—faith in the Jesus who heals, feeds, and loves calls us to honor, respect, and cherish the life of every person. Every person. There are no exceptions.
I am angry. I am afraid. But I have faith.
I know that God’s peace and God’s justice does not look like my own.
I know I can learn from the chaos of Ferguson. But, I don’t want another person, another unarmed black man shot down because he might be threat. I know that is not God’s peace. I know that is not God’s justice.