I may lose some friends for posting this and I am sure I will make some people mad. But the bottom line is this. Black lives won’t matter to them, until they really matter to us. Once I was arrested for stealing my own car. I explained to the police officer that it was indeed my car. He asserted to the contrary that the car had been reported as stolen. I stated how can that be? It is my car. He ignored me, handcuffed me and took me to jail.
This was the year 1987. I had just returned from my 2nd short-term Christian missionary outreach to Africa.
That morning I had just drop my children off at school and completed rounds at 2 hospitals. The license plates had been tampered with on my car and I was emerging from the office with the appropriate documents in hand to reapply. That’s when the officer approached.
I kept my cool. I showed him the documents in my hand. He ignored me. He had an agenda that it was best I complied with for the sake of my life.
I called out to a young black man who happen to be walking by and gave him my wife’s phone number. “Please call my wife and tell her I am being taken to the police station!” He did so. And within 30 minutes my wife was there to free me from this very unpleasant dilemma. This was only one of a series of similar encounters with the police I have had growing up. None of them proved fatal. All but one was unnecessary and unnerving.
I understand completely the furor, indeed righteous anger associated with the openly brazen acts of murder of black citizens of this country when those acts are committed by those responsible for protecting the citizens. I agree with Colin Kaepernick, as I agreed with the late, great Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos the Olympians of 1968 who all stood in protest against racism and oppression in the United States. I understand the problem because I have lived it and continue to live it.
However, there comes a time when I must ask my own community to take in account of how much our lives matter to us. I am fully aware that this will not be accepted by many of my friends, colleagues, cohorts and family. But it must be said. Every time a black man, woman or child dies in a drive-by shooting, gangster violence, drug related activity that life matters. Every time a baby is pulled from the uterus of a mother either by sucking, dismemberment, injection of lethal substances or scraping the walls of the womb that life matters.
Every time a mother buries her son or daughter who has been caught up either by accident or chance in a violent episode in our community that life should matter.
Murdering black men and women in the streets by those who are entrusted to protect is without excuse. But their excesses will continue until we make it a point to protest vehemently, argue unceasingly and protect our own from our own. Black lives won’t matter to anyone unless they matter to us.