DWBs: Driving While Black
I am the furthest thing from a race-baiter. In fact, some more uninformed individuals might even accuse me of being the opposite. Others have stated that I am “unbalanced.” Here’s the deal. I say exactly what I feel needs to be said, to who I feel it needs to be said, in the way I feel it needs to be said, when I feel led to say it. Sometimes that leading is of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes that leading is from my own (informed) feelings. And sometimes, just sometimes, that leading is from my flesh. *cringe* But I always try to keep my “rants” Jesus-centered.
I know I’m polarizing. Jesus was polarizing, so I own it.
I know I can often be unpopular. I also know that I rarely care.
I know that I don’t address everything (really, who can??) and often that inability to address everything may cause me to come off as “unbalanced.”
I also know I will never ever be able to please everyone.
And frankly my dear, I don’t...well, you know the rest.
Let me be clear: I know that the few statements I’ve made about Ferguson, Mike Brown, and the like have come down hard on my own (black) people. I did that intentionally because I feel there is A LOT that needs to be said that people aren’t saying, but that they--we--need to hear all the same.
It doesn’t mean that I think black people are always wrong. It certainly doesn’t mean that I think white (non-black) people are always right. It just means there was a message that needed to be shared so I shared it.
But in an effort to be a bit more balanced, please allow me to share a short story with you.
Maybe about five years ago, I worked a late night shift (8pm-2am, or 10pm-2am) as a Prayer Partner for the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association. I didn’t have a car, so my friend, an African pastor, would pick me up from work.
On one particular evening (early morning), we were driving back to our neck of the woods as usual when we noticed a police car behind us. Now that may not sound unusual. We’re on the freeway. It’s a free country. We run into cops on the road all the time. No issues there right?
We noticed this cop because he seemed to be following us for whatever reason. He wasn’t on our tail exactly and the lights/siren weren’t on, so we just told ourselves it felt like he was following us because there weren’t too many other cars on the freeway with us. We appropriately shifted lanes and exited the freeway at our exit.
But the cop followed us.
We continued down the street which was a main street, but still fairly empty due to the late hour.
Then maybe a minute or two down the road, he turned on his siren, and forced us to pull over.
Now we were scared.
This young, puny, nervous, white cop exited his car, came over to the window, and started questioning my friend.
“Why did you pull us over, Officer?”
“Because you were swerving.” (Lie.)
“We weren’t swerving, Sir.”
“Where are you coming from?”
“My friend works as a Prayer Partner for the Oral Roberts Ministry. I was picking her up.”
“Oh…” *gets nervous*
He thought we were coming from the strip club. Apparently, one or both of us must have been drunk. Apparently, black men must be at the strip club if they’re out late at night. And apparently, any woman out late at night with a black man--especially if she’s black too--must be a stripper, prostitute, or some other type of “loose” woman.
Forget the fact that my friend was in the remnants of the suit he’d been wearing all day: a dress shirt, dress pants, and dress shoes.
Forget the fact that I was fully clothed and dressed in a way that befitted a Prayer Partner for a prominent local ministry.
But that wasn’t enough. Oh no. Apparently, he needed my friend to actually exit the car and not stand outside the car, but to actually sit in the backseat of his car until he was good and ready to release us.
It was late at night, so there was little-to-no traffic going by. Chances are no one would have seen if something truly inappropriate had taken place.
A young, inexperienced officer, late at night, feeling like he has to prove himself...not a good mixture AT ALL.
He, not roughly, yet still unfairly, forced my friend to sit in his backseat and thankfully, my friend complied. He simply chatted with the officer and out came the news, “I’m a pastor” so the officer was starting to feel really dumb at this point.
He knew he was in the wrong.
But the reality was, he simply saw a (dark-skinned) black man (and woman) driving a nice car (an Acura), headed towards a nice area, and incorrectly assumed something must be wrong with that scenario.
It was scary, but once that emotion wore off. It was straight up offensive.
Who was he to pull us over and then lie to have a so-called “reason” to do so?? And if memory serves correctly, he didn’t even apologize to us.
We were guilty of nothing. Nothing but being black. And that’s CERTAINLY nothing to apologize for. In fact, it’s a cause to be proud.
[Contrary to (unpopular) Mormon and other cultic beliefs, black people were not cursed with black skin; it was a blessing. And newsflash: white folks and all other ethnicities can be scientifically derived from black folks, not the other way around. Chances are, Adam and Eve were BLACK.]
Would he have pulled us over if my ex wasn’t so dark-skinned?
Would he have pulled us over if it was just me driving?
Would he have pulled us over it it weren’t so late?
Would he have pulled us over if we weren’t in a nice car or if we weren’t headed to the nice part of town?
I don’t know. I really don’t.
But I know that this happens ALL.THE.TIME.
Black men of various skin-tones, from various walks of life, have been pulled over, interrogated, and overall mistreated simply for being black. And don’t let them be in a nice car, a nice area, or dressed casually! That would just elevate the situation.
Other Unfortunate Events
Growing up in “lily white” Des Moines, Iowa, I always wondered if my little brother just happened to draw the short stick with crappy elementary school teachers or if they were actually racist. (My sister and I had a largely different batch of wonderful teachers.) Were they really that cruel to everyone or was it just because our brother was a little black boy who happened to be a little darker than my sister and I?
A few years ago, with a different friend, I went to one of my favourite, cutesy, shopping areas out here in North Carolina. We’d had a fairly pleasant trip (he was visiting me) and not one prejudiced/racist incident. We even went to Southpark Mall in South Charlotte where all the old money is in this “nicest, racist city” without incident. But in this little open shopping area, the first three stores we went into mistreated us simply because we were black.
The first store, we were literally the only two visitors in the store and the saleswoman refused to acknowledge us until we said, “Hellooo!” Then she, joylessly, responded out of necessity.
The second store, the saleswoman was genuinely caught up in conversation with some other customers so we didn’t mind the lack of acknowledgement at first. But five minutes into our visit, she still hadn’t acknowledged our presence--and we’d circled by her a few times! I’ve worked retail before. This is straight up RUDE.
The third store, unfortunately, a Banana Republic, the salesclerk, again, refused to acknowledge us or offer assistance. What that prejudiced person did not know was that Banana was my friend’s favourite store. And what s/he and the other clerks did not realise was that my friend was a private banker. We could have spent A LOT of money in those stores if we’d wanted to. But they didn’t see a well-off professional with his middle-class friend. They just saw two black people. Maybe even two "n*ggers" and thus, didn’t feel it worth their time to assist us.
In fifth grade, in Iowa, my “friend” called me one day and complimented my family on how well we carried ourselves. Sounds like a real compliment right? Wrong. Her passive-aggressive statement, obviously learned from her parents/family members, indicated that black people were not supposed to act like that; we do not behave well as white people as a whole. Thus, I was supposed to be overwhelmed with great joy that we stood out from the rest with our uncharacteristic good behaviour. I was young and dumb so I truly thought it was a compliment. But when I ran upstairs and told my parents what little Bonnie said, the look on my mother’s face said it all. That was not a compliment and Bonnie was not my friend.
Now, while I may have family members who look for prejudiced and racist people under every green tree, I was never raised that way. My father is half-white. His mother was a full-blooded Irish woman. And he does not look black. In fact, he’s more like camouflage since he’s been mistaken for white (by little white boys and perhaps others), Mexican by the California Border Patrol--constantly, Indian (South Asian) by the man who owned the cleaners around the corner from our house, and he certainly looked Middle-Eastern when my dad and his fellow Operation Iraqi Freedom servicemen took pictures of themselves pretending to be Saddam Hussein. Seriously. I had to do a double-take and see who was really riding that camel! But all that to say, I never grew up looking for racism.
And allow me to take a moment to confess that I admittedly will never have the same “black in America” experience as someone who is darker than me. And I will absolutely never have the experience of being a black man. Which actually comes with its own set of troubles. Thanks to the house slave vs. field slave mentality (thanks again Willie Lynch!), there are those who will always think I’m better (or think I think I’m better) than other black people because I’m high yellow; light-skinned. While I would not have been able to pass the ruler test (not on a natural day anyway), I certainly would have passed the paper bag test. And chances are, as a house slave, I would have been the most unfortunate sex slave of some slave owner like Sally Hemings, Easter from Roots (Queen’s mother), and so many others before me. This comes with its own set of “perks” and cons.
People--my own people--make assumptions about me that are unfounded. People also automatically assume I’m physically attractive, or the black standard of beauty, because I’m mixed. Let me tell you: I’ve seen some highly (physically) unattractive light-skinned people just as I’ve seen some highly attractive dark-skinned people. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But all this to say, I know I will never have to experience the same level of discrimination as someone darker than me. (And that’s not just for black people. I’ve met several Native American, Indian, Latino, etc. people who’ve been darker than me.)
But honestly, because I never seek racism out, I may, perhaps, overlook or re-assign situations as not being negatively, racially-motivated that could have been. But I’d rather assume that someone was having a bad day or just is not a people-person, then assuming they’re racist. It makes life better, easier, and happier.
But sometimes, even oftentimes depending on where you live, racism is the reality.
HAVING A BLACK PRESIDENT DOESN'T MEAN A DARN THING.
President Obama plays his individual ethnic influences whenever and wherever it’s convenient. When he’s with black folks, he’s brotha. When he’s with white folks, he plays that role. When he’s with Muslims, he’s a Muslim. And apparently, he as a “Jewish heart.” *face palm* And while he may fist bump First Lady Michelle, kick it with Jay Z and Queen Bey, and have the queens of soul and pop sing the national anthem at his inaugurations, let’s face it: this man has done next to NOTHING to advance the cause of blacks in America. (And yes, there still is a black cause that must be advanced, I’m just personally more concerned with advancing the Kingdom cause, but God bless all those with the burden of the ethnic cause!)
I saw white idiots (not that all white people are idiots, I’m just specifically speaking of particular idiots) say crap like “Let’s put the white back in the White House!” when Mitt Romney was running against President Obama for office. I saw white people say horrendous things about the President and First Lady that NEVER would have been said, had they been white.
And while I do absolutely believe that some opposed the Obamas due to their skin colour, I do not think that everyone who opposes the Obama Presidency is racist. If that were the case, I’d be racist against my own kind!
But we do have a problem.
Even while I maintain fully and completely that America is the absolute best place IN THE WORLD to be (young and) black of either gender, we still have a problem.
I don’t subscribe to the theory that all of our Founding Fathers were racists. I still think that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were good, admirable men even if they were slave-owners. Yes, I just said that. And God forbid, if I had to be a slave at that time period, I’m positive I would have rather been a slave on one of their plantations than someone else’s who aligned more with the demonized Willie Lynch’s maniacal theories.
I absolutely believe this great nation--despite what President Obama and other liberal progressives are trying to make it--was founded absolutely upon the Word and will of God. The Revolutionary War never would have been fought had it not been for Holy Ghost-fire bands like, George Whitfield who led us, spiritually to war and the First Great Awakening. It does not negate the fact that there have been racial and social injustices that were also sown as tares alongside the “wheat” of this nation’s founding.
I look at slavery (and prejudice and racism) the same way I look at polygamy in the Bible. God never ordained it. God never promoted it. And God certainly never blessed it. Yet it was a social ill that was present due to the culture of the times. But Jesus didn’t come to be a social justice radical. He came to save us from our sins and introduce us to the Kingdom of God. And we, His image and voice and hands in the earth, were to take on His image and abolish those things ourselves, with His help of course.
Do we always get it right? Absolutely NOT.
But there is hope. Just as Dr. Michael L. Brown discusses in his book, Can You Be Gay and Christian? when he addresses claims about sexism and slavery in the Bible, so I say: the seeds of liberty were sown through the enlightenment of the Gospel. It is the Truth, Jesus Christ Himself that sets us free. Not hatred, protests, or “ministers” who spend more time race-baiting than preaching.
This entire nation needs a come-to-Jesus moment.
And in that moment, we need to realise that we do not value life. With godlessness comes the lack of the sanctity of life in general. Black life, white life; young life, old life; any life at all! The devil is behind it all. Racism (against blacks/minorities) is just a facet of that. Abortion is a facet of that. Assisted suicide and other medical murders are a facet of that. Slavery was and is a facet of that. This nation needs to have its heart circumcised.
Cops, as a whole, are NOT out to kill off black folks. It (racism) is a spirit that some are susceptible to.
White folks, as a whole, are not out to murder (abort) black and brown babies. That’s the Spirit of Herod and Pharaoh in league with the Spirit of Jezebel.
(White) business men, as a whole, are not out to purchase little girls, little boys, and women for sex slavery. That too is the Spirit of Jezebel and Baal at work.
America doesn’t have a race problem. Neither do we have an abortion or slavery/trafficking problem. These are only symptoms of the greater ill. America has a heart problem that only Jesus and His Blood can fix. That sooner we admit that, the sooner we will see the change we so desperately need.
Also on your skirts is found the blood of the lives of the poor innocents. I have not found it by secret search, but plainly on all these things. Yet you say, "Because I am innocent, surely His anger shall turn from me." Behold, I will plead My case against you, because you say, "I have not sinned." (Jeremiah 2:34-35)
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. (Jeremiah 4:4)
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to talk in My statutes, and will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleanness. (Ezekiel 36:26-29)