This is the hardest thing I have ever had to write.
As I read through my social media timelines, it seems like every person I know has become the arbiter of racial wisdom. They pontificate on the “white privilege” they have. They virtue signal every crime that our “systemic” lives have perpetrated. Somehow, everyone with pale skin is guilty of racism even when they’ve done nothing wrong and that THAT is all the evidence needed to prove that they are a racist. These folks who write have all become experts in how to heal our land and the only solution is to give in to those who are most angry and allow them to destroy our cities. And they do it from cushy suburbia where they have never had to interact with people from other racial backgrounds like others I know.
I so want to say something on every post and tweet I’ve seen. But then the fingers will point and the accusations will fly that Mike Lewis is guilty of “white privilege” and “racism” for even saying something. Unless I signal a virtue and accept my guilt, I am “part of the problem.”
So what do I say? Do I feign outrage at the death of someone who was only guilty of trying to use a fake twenty at a store? Do I speak out about all the systemic injustice that *clearly* our cops are guilty of? If I don’t, am I part of the problem? Hater. Racist. Privileged. White.
This all breaks my heart and it breaks Jesus’ heart.
I am not Jesus. Not claiming to be. But I have always striven to be like him.
I grew up in a very tough town. Stockton, California. A place where it’s tough to grow up and not get into trouble. I remember living on Greenfield Lane next door to a Hindu family. My brother and I played G.I. Joe (A Real American Hero) figures with their son Mindeep. We had fun. He would come over and ask if we could play. And we loved getting out our Joes and setting up in the front yard. Was I racist? Could I have done something to make him feel more at ease as we played? I was a kid…I didn’t know any different.
In Junior High (Middle School for some of you) we made friends with the Thompson boys–George and Shawn–at our church and used to go to their house and play on their Vectrex (video game nerds know) and street baseball in their cul-de-sac with a tennis ball. We used to call each other on the phone when we got new games and talk about the “next time we come over” to play them together. Does it matter if I tell you what race they are? Does that make me more or less virtuous? Why do you care? I didn’t. My brother and I used to love hanging out with them and the chances we got to take street baseball to the park diamond and really let it rip.
The people I have met in my life, my friends, youth group members, roommates, college friends, singing mates, ministry acquaintances, and people I know as a 45 year old adult have been friends and people I have had the honor to associate with because of who I am and they are in Christ…not because of what shade of the rainbow their skin is. And it makes me sad that people care about that.
I used to change air fresheners for a living. I once went into an apartment complex and was clearly changing an air freshener. A man came out with a different skin tone than me and yelled at me because he “hates when there are white people on his floor.” Was that okay? Why? Because I am white and part of the problem? How about the kids who used to pick on me in elementary school because I was white? What about the kids in high school who would pick on me because I was white? What about the…….I won’t go on…..it doesn’t end well. Did I deserve that because I am part of some system of racism? Is it because I am not dead so I must have benefited from some of this “privilege”?
Let me flip the narrative for a minute…
J.T., B.F., T.G., J.J., S.F., J.J., S.M., and more if I sit and try to think of names….These are the initials (don’t want to reveal their identity) of men I know who have served or are still serving in some kind of law enforcement. If I add names of those working toward that goal, I could double this list. Not one of them is glad that there are corrupt police in our country. Not one of them is happy to hurt people. Not one is happy about racism. Not one thinks we should let bad police go free. All of them are hurting right now very deeply about what has happened. All of them do what they do to make sure our cities have justice and they do their best to keep the peace. All of them have to be silent because of what could happen to them if they say anything outside the boundaries of the current narrative. Is that “systemic”? What system is encouraging bad policing? Name it. Vague virtue signaling doesn’t fix it.
For those speaking out about racial inequality–good. I am glad. Racism needs to end. We also know what Scripture says about justice and mercy. It’s a verse often quoted by those who have replaced the Gospel of Jesus with the social justice, false gospel.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” –Micah 6:8 [NIV]
If we want to see justice done–God’s justice–real justice–we must be people who teach peace and mercy as well. The things I have seen people say have not been peaceful. They have called for people to be angry and serve justice in their own way. Not seeking true justice. I can guarantee that none would like to see God enact His justice…because He would not give them the grace and middle ground they would think they deserve. We would all be guilty of something and condemned to death. That’s what we deserve. God’s grace thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice is given freely to everyone who repents and calls on His name.
That’s the Gospel.
For now, this is all I can say. It was hard to write. It isn’t eloquent. It’s from my heart and now online for all to see. And I expect backlash…because I am not holding to the narrative. The accusations are going to fly and I cannot “prove” any of what I am saying. I cannot show that I am somehow an escapee from a “system” and cannot make myself look any better. I have to live with what people say. (It is ironic that those who virtue signal the loudest and seem to understand the least are the most liberal politically and theologically.)
I mourn what is happening in our nation right now. I cannot adequately write what I am thinking and feeling. I pray for our brothers and sisters who have a different skin tone than me. I cannot speak to what they deal with on a day-to-day basis. I don’t live it.
But, may I say that I am thankful for the days playing Joes with Mindeep? For the days of Nintendo and hitting that tennis ball with the Thompson boys? For the gang members of my youth group our youth minister taught Jesus? For my college friends? Minister friends?
Thank you to my parents raising me to love all people regardless of their skin color. Racism is taught not inherent in us. It can be overcome. I go to my knees in prayer on days like this asking for Jesus to come quickly. We need him now more than ever.
Joes and Street Baseball
This is the hardest thing I have ever had to write.
I am a mother raising brown children, as you know. My children, namely my older two, have faced a plethora of issues from their fellow people. They are called names too often. There is a deep racism in the Latino people towards blacks, as well as blacks towards them, Asians, etc. I believe in protests. They should happen. I do not believe in showing up to a protest listening to music glorifying black on black crime and killing one another. If you’re going to protest, protest all of it. I often wonder why the Indigenous people are not protested for on larger scales. I wonder if people even know that reservations are still inhabited. No one says of the gang culture, degrading women culture, those are acceptable and they absolutely should not be. I also believe in police brutality as I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes, against my white brother, my white neighbor, my black neighbor, even my dog. My uncle was fired for police brutality. It exists. For me, what I’ve encountered personally, not all police I’m certain, but the ones I’ve encountered, police have a better than or superior ideal, anyone, whatever race they may be, is less than, again, this is what I’ve encountered and the city I live in, I cannot speak for any other people or place. Statistically, a lot ride against my children. But statistics can change, yes? As my son has so eloquently and feverishly said: “White kids are the minority at my school. Kids bring guns to my school, none of them have been white. Fights break out everyday. Every single day. Police rarely show up, not in this neighborhood. I am called white boy by the minorities because I prefer intellect over gang mentality, over becoming a teenage father, over selling dope, in their eyes, that makes me white, do they not see what a dishonor that’s is to them, as if they really got me there? I cannot relate to anyone my age, they all talk about the parties they went to, the girls they hooked up with, the drugs they did and all I have are book reviews. My own extended family make fun of me and try to put me down by saying “What kind of Mexican are you?”, and enjoy a hearty laugh like it hurts my feelings, but the idiotic nature of them is what’s laughable. We’ve had drive-by’s on our street, the cops took over an hour to come. Shoes line the cable lines, and it’s crickets. And I don’t need a white savior. There are usually two white people in situations like this; the white savior, the one who is overly guilty and will cradle us and give us whatever we desire. I could literally stand up in class and scream out “F*CK YOU” and I’d get a standing ovation because I’m a brown kid, so they immediately see me as a charity case, they immediately assume I am i poverty and need missionary help like Tijuana. How did we start relying on that? And then there are the ones who want to sweep it under the rug because ignorance is bliss, if they don’t sit with it, it really isn’t happening or isn’t happening that bad. Racism is not subjected to black and white only. I am indigenous and no one knows the names of my people getting killed. Our women get raped and murdered left and right and no one says anything. Why?”
Mike, I have so much respect for you. It is not easy to post something like this, especially being a white male and knowing you will receive backlash for it. And you posted it anyway. Jesus has been uninvited to a lot of these situations, but I still see glimpses of Him through actions. I appreciate you, incredibly so!
I very much appreciate your response. I have been fortunate to read your words online about this. And you’ve shared your experiences with me privately. Thank you for reading.