With each news story of a black person losing life in a police-related incident, I have become increasingly anxious. Despite my friends and acquaintances of color telling me stories of such occurrences for many years, only in recent years have I begun to fathom the problem and the tragedy. I stand convicted of chosen ignorance and inaction. As I left the office yesterday, I was praying, “Lord, what can I do?”
[photo credit: Patrick Tomasso]
Traffic was heavy and I decided to explore a new route home. The slower pace through a neighborhood of large, expensive homes had a calming effect on me. This wasn’t the most efficient route — there was a 4-way stop at almost every corner. Still, it was a break from the congestion.
As I approached one of those intersections, I saw a vehicle waiting. At first I thought that the driver was intending to turn. Then I noticed that it was his emergency flashers that were blinking. Even though he was there first and to my right, he waved me on. I understood. He was having car trouble. Moving ahead, I saw for the first time that he was black.
Fifteen minutes later, still on my commute, the reality of his situation suddenly occurred to me. He was a solitary black man in a disabled vehicle in a predominantly white neighborhood. For all I knew, he lived nearby. But even if he did, was he sitting and waiting for help in fear for his life?
I wouldn’t be. I’m white.
I couldn’t keep from thinking how that would be different for someone with a different skin color.
I always feel pretty shallow when God gives me an answer and I miss it. I could have pulled over, offered my phone if he needed it, been a friendly stranger offering company, and stood close by until he was safely on his way. Yes, I know the arguments against that stemming from personal safety concerns.
But at some point, we have to do something. Particularly if it’s an answer to prayer. Don’t we? What’s God telling you?