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