I am the mother of three young adult children with white skin. They inherited Whiter-Than-Queen-Elizabeth skin from me and Mediterranean-ish skin from their father. This automatically makes them safer than their friends with brown or black skin if you look at national statistics.
Once, just a few years ago, an adult male friend with black skin and I with white skin got locked out of a building in the middle of a sunny day in a nice suburb. We walked around looking for an open window to climb through and when we found one, I asked my friend to climb through because I was wearing a dress. He said, “But I’m wearing Black skin and someone might shoot me if I climb through that window.”
Can we – white friends and family – even imagine this? That the default response when seeing a dark skinned person is danger or trouble or crime?
This is not funny.
- New Yorkers were stopped by the police 191,558 times.
- 104,958 were black (56 percent).
- 55,191 were Latino (29 percent).
- 20,877 were white (11 percent).
Stop and Frisk is a bad law, but what’s worse is that our white children are much less likely to be stopped and frisked than our brown or black children. This is disgraceful in the United States of America, at least if we take seriously our constitution and the flags we proudly wave.
What is even more outrageous – and God will be holding us accountable for this – is when brown or black skinned children are shot while looking for help, shot while walking home from a store, shot while walking down the middle of the street in the middle of the day. For the sake of argument, let’s say that all these victims were drug-addled or mouthy or angry. (Have any of our white children ever been drug-addled or mouthy or angry?) Shooting people should not be our first response.
Again, God holds us accountable for the way we treat each other. If we claim to be a follower of Jesus – or even if we don’t – treating others the way we want to be treated is golden. It’s the best way to live.
So here’s my point: we have got to see children and young adults with brown or black skin the same way we see our children and young adults with white skin. This is the least we can do.
Image is a tapestry by Cathie Beckman which can be found here. Please check out her artwork here. From the artist: “I wove the piece in 2011. It is about the Cincinnati Riots that took place in 2001 and were the 2 nd largest urban riots in the U.S., next to Rodney King. A black man of 19 was running away from police because he was wanted for some misdemeanor charges. As he was running he pulled up his sweatpants and the police thought he was pulling a weapon and shot and killed him. The riots lasted 4 days. I was driving through a poorer neighborhood, predominately Black when I got stuck at a corner in a gridlock of traffic. On the corner I saw a young man of about 14-16 holding a cardboard sign that said ‘Please Don’t Shoot Me.’ Now his message has become mine and I try to exhibit this piece as many places as possible.”