My Reflection on the Botham Jean Story

I was reading some posts by white people who seem to understand the systemic nature of racism. I agree with what they were saying. However, I felt like something was missing.

People always get all warm and fuzzy when they see black people forgiving their white perpetrators and yes, we need to forgive. However, that’s the problem. It is all one-sided.

Black people have to forgive.

Black people have to inform white people and prove to them the struggles and issues of racism that black people have to endure every day.

Black people have to protest, advocate and risk much for justice and equity.

Black people have to adapt their lives and be sensitive to the situations they are in constantly.

Black people have to give, give, give with no or little opportunities to receive.

Black people have to convince everyone else that we are worthy, have value and are due dignity, respect, just, and humane treatment.

People were so touched by the brother’s forgiveness yet upset with the mother’s critique. We see this all the time. I wonder if people realize that these collective reactions feel like a slap in our face. Yet again we are told, albeit not verbally, to suck it up and do the right thing. That thing that makes white people feel better and less anxious.

I am a person of peace but I AM TIRED!!!!!!

To those white people who are woke and understand the depths of racism we are dealing with, I say:

IT’S TIME TO SPEAK, ACT AND RISK

You must speak to everyone in your sphere of influence and even create larger networks and start informing everyone and having those hard conversations that are necessary

You must show up in a supportive and encouraging way – physically showing up at rallies and protests, materially showing up by voting for those who will help to dismantle this foundation of racism, whether they are in the party you typically vote for or not

You must risk as much as black people have to risk every day of their lives. Risk your family, your friends, your job, your community for the sake of justice and equity.

Matthew 23:23

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

There Is Hope!

Dallas has been in a tension-filled state for a while now and even the verdict and sentencing have not alleviated the tension. Things said during the trial actually added to the tension. We all agree that the police have a burden to bear and must implement change. However, I believe that we all have a burden to bear and must also be willing to implement change. Change in our thinking, beliefs, and behaviors.

One example of this I experienced this past weekend in a small town called Mulkiteo, WA. One year ago, my godson and another young man were murdered in Mulkiteo. One year later as things are winding down, my sister asked about some type of memorial for my godson. One of the officers took the lead and solicited for donations from the staff. They raised enough money to pay for a park bench with a plaque on it commemorating the life of my godson (see picture). Hence, my trip to Mulkiteo.

(Pictures: The bench, the view from the bench, my sister and one of the police hugging, me and my two sisters talking with one of the police.)

However, that’s only part of the story. We heard many stories from police staff (officers, detectives, victim advocates – from Mulkiteo and the county of Snohomish – see picture). I also talked with the mayor and she said they were intentional about hiring diverse staff and having the staff undergo diversity training. The police chief is Asian, they have women and men in all different positions. Some of them even got emotional when telling their stories.

It gave me hope and something to hold onto as I made my way back to Dallas and the uncertainties of the Guyger trial. Yes, we need to change. And yes, there is hope that change is possible. They are changing things in Mulkiteo, WA and it shows us that we can change things in Dallas, TX. Be encouraged and be ready, willing and able to do your part.

Police Staff

We Pray

God of Mercy, God of Grace, God of Love

I pray for Your peace, Your justice and Your healing everywhere around the world. We can’t turn on the news without hearing of people killing, hurting, mistreating or oppressing others.

I know You are not pleased with this and my heart breaks for this world.

I call on all true believers to pray!

Pray for God’s Peace!

Peace even in the midst of all the chaos in this world.

No more weapons (biological, physical or mental) turned on people.

Peace that yields a fervent and consistent truce among all peoples everywhere.

Pray for God’s Justice!

That all wrong will be made right!

That people will not have to live in fear and confusion!

That people, all people, can and do contribute and receive as they are blessed.

Pray for God’s Healing!

That all will be made anew in God’s image.

That all will find and walk into their God purpose.

That people will be helpful, kind and loving to one another.

God of Mercy, God of Grace, God of Love

My heart breaks every time I hear of yet another family or people group being ripped apart. How have we gotten to such a state? How can we turn things around?

For me, turning things around begins with Visible Unity, my nonprofit that is “Bringing People Together Through Reconciliation To Unity.”

Check out our website and come join us!

Blessings

Another Random Act of Interaction

My most recent Random Act of Interaction came a few weeks ago, somewhat by accident. At the Retirement Dinner for a dear friend from high school, I sat with members of his family. Kita sat next to me, and everyone at the table joined in a conversation about parenting and grand-parenting. I expressed a couple of thoughts based on my complete lack of inexperience in either department. Somehow, I mentioned that I had gone through a relationship difficulty many years ago. Kita noticed the comment, and asked me to talk a bit more about my experience. As we talked, I learned that she had a similar, but more recent experience. A spark went off in my heart. As much pain as I went through so many years ago, I could see a way to express to her the things that helped me cope, and the joy I now feel, having emerged on the other side. She also helped me to see the strength she has, knowing who she is and wanting to be true to herself. It was a wonderful, bonding experience that only happened because Kita was willing to step a little outside her comfort zone and engage with someone that, on the surface, seemed to have very little in common with her. Thank you, Kita. And thank you, Visible Unity, for giving us a place to record these experiences. Take the challenge, and then record your experience on social media, or http://www.visibleunityinc.org, with hashtags #RandomActsofInteraction and #ComfortZoneSucks so others will be inspired by your story.

Random Acts of Interaction

Image may contain: one or more people, eyeglasses and closeup

My most recent Random Act of Interaction came a few weeks ago, somewhat by accident. At the Retirement Dinner for a dear friend from high school, I sat with members of his family. Kita sat next to me, and everyone at the table joined in a conversation about parenting and grand-parenting. I expressed a couple of thoughts based on my complete lack of inexperience in either department. Somehow, I mentioned that I had gone through a relationship difficulty many years ago. Kita noticed the comment, and asked me to talk a bit more about my experience. As we talked, I learned that she had a similar, but more recent experience. A spark went off in my heart. As much pain as I went through so many years ago, I could see a way to express to her the things that helped me cope, and the joy I now feel, having emerged on the other side. She also helped me to see the strength she has, knowing who she is and wanting to be true to herself. It was a wonderful, bonding experience that only happened because Kita was willing to step a little outside her comfort zone and engage with someone that, on the surface, seemed to have very little in common with her. Thank you, Kita. And thank you, Visible Unity, for giving us a place to record these experiences. Take the challenge, and then record your experience on social media, or http://www.visibleunityinc.org, with hashtags #RandomActsofInteraction and #ComfortZoneSucks so others will be inspired by your story.

 

Random Acts of Interaction!

#RandomActsofInteraction
I just returned from a conference hosted by the Ponca tribe that was focused on Environmental Justice. I was hesitant about going because I have always had mixed feelings about Native Americans. However, I truly believe that if all people of color can come together and build relationships, then we can each support one another in our fights. The bottom line is we are all fighting the same thing – oppression, discrimination and corruption.

So, I came out of my comfort zone and went to the conference. I engaged in conversations and fully participated in the conference and now I have a better understanding of where Native Americans are coming from and I’m even more ready and willing to build relationships with them. Out of about 200 attendees, there were 7 Black people present, probably a dozen or so white people, maybe about the same number of Hispanic/Latino people and the rest were Native American. I hope that I was also able to encourage some of them about the importance of building relationships with other people of color. I even put it out there that for those interested, they could call upon me for assistance.

Sometimes it pays to stretch out of your comfort zone. 

#ComfortZoneSucks @VisibleUnity
I challenge you!

Random Acts of Interaction Challenge! I did it!

Random Acts of Interaction is a challenge that forces one out of their comfort zone to interact with a person one normally would avoid. Below is a readout of my interaction. Now, I challenge you.

I attended Girls Night Out, a monthly get together of about 20 women of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. My dear friend Sylvia organizes the monthly gatherings and although I am not always able to attend, I love the idea of women getting together to do fun things. No husbands, no children, no work, just pure female fun!

When I arrived at the restaurant all the middle seats (where you can dally in the most conversations) were taken so I took a seat at the end and sat across from a lady who had a very heavy accent. Let me be honest…I do not like to speak with people with heavy accents. For me, it is hard work and exhausting. I have to slow my thinking, stall my assumptions, keep my focus on the speaker, and avoid distractions all while trying to decipher words. As I said, exhausting! It doesn’t take long for me to reach listener fatigue. So I started looking around to see where else I could sit but there were no other seats.

I had previously spoken with Pam and Cindy with Visible Unity about Random Acts of Interaction, a program that forces one to get out of their comfort zone and engage people we normally would avoid. For me – people with heavy accents.

So since I was stuck, I decided to challenge myself to converse with Esther, the lady with the heavy accent. Guess what? It turned out to be a robust, personal, and fun conversation. I learned she was fasting which was something I had been thinking and learning about. She freely shared her fasting experiences and offered some tips. In addition, I learned we both attend small group home bible studies and she actually hosts her group in her home. Finally, we talked about our professions and I jealously learned she had retired after serving for so many years as an educator and principal. It was an amazing time of fellowship and I was so glad she wanted to take a selfie with me at the end of dinner.

As I was driving home that evening, I thought about how I would have missed out on the opportunity to get to know Esther if I had ignored her and stayed in my comfort zone or found another seat. Had I not been willing to intentionally interact, I would have missed a most delightful time of sharing.

Thank you Visible Unity for challenging us to interact with people we normally avoid. My life is richer for the exchange. #randomactsofinteraction#comfortzonesucks.

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