I had never heard of Ferguson, MO until just a few months ago. In fact, I had never given much deep thought about the sense of injustice that many African Americans in our country experience until just a few years ago. Honestly, I’d never paid much attention to the history of Civil Rights or slavery until we moved to North Carolina five years ago. I never had a real African American friend until just a few years ago.
I’ve been literally blind, ignorant, unaware of the struggles, pain, and helplessness felt by many black men and women in America.
Several years ago I participated in a two year leadership development program within Cru along with a fellow staff member, Milton Massie. Milton and his wife Cynthia serve on the national leadership team for Cru Inner City and lead locally on the south side of Chicago. We became, as Milton describes it, “unlikely” friends. By getting to know this dear couple, and many others on our staff, I’ve learned, or better yet: I am learning, to see the world through different eyes. I’ve read and studied about the effects of slavery reverberating through America’s short history. I’ve written papers on the growth of the African American church in the post-civil war-south. I’ve been humbled by the horror and pain that men and women, created in the image of God, endured due to the color of their skin. I am ashamed to admit I never remember studying any of this as a child.
I am grateful for the patience of friends like the Massies who graciously wait as yet another white woman tries to wrap her head around their reality.
There was a time when I would’ve responded to the events in Ferguson with an air of smugness. I would’ve balked at the violence and shut off the cries for justice. “The grand jury did its job. The evidence proves it. Justice was served.” Today, as I listen to my friends Milton and Cynthia describe their feelings, and the feelings of those with whom they live and work as numb and helpless, I weep. For in all my 55 years of life in this great country of ours, I’ve never ONCE feared misrepresentation because of the color of my skin. This is America.
This is America!
I barely know what to do with this growing revelation. I inch along, fearful I’ll say the wrong thing and in the process add to the searing pain. Never the less, I will keep learning and growing and seeking to understand. And, as Milton reminded me today, I will continue to put my hope in the One who suffered the greatest injustice on my behalf, Jesus the Son of God. He is the anchor of our hope.
Pray with me that our country, founded on freedom and justice for ALL, will experience unity, healing, and HOPE that comes from One greater than us all.