I find myself conflicted about the mosaic mass of people protesting against racial discrimination and the equitable treatment of African Americans by law enforcement.
While I am elated that white Americans are beginning to see what we as African Americans have seen for decades, I am saddened that it took so long.
Where was this outcry from the white community when a Treyvon Martin was killed?
Where was the outcry when Philando Castile was killed by a police officer after being pulled over for a taillight violation?
Where was the outcry when Alton Sterling was shot point blank while lying on his back?
I can go on and on about the African Americans who die at the hand of law enforcement and the officers who are never held accountable.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong proponent of law enforcement. But just because I support Black Lives Matter, it doesn’t mean I am anti-law enforcement.
I do not think we should restrict law enforcement funding as much as we should redirect funding toward reconditioning the culture within police departments.
If white Americans would have responded sooner, maybe George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others would still be alive. I guess it is true; silence is violence.
What saddens me the most is the historical reticence of the righteous, that is, the Christian church.
Martin Luther King Jr. once proposed this reticence stems from a historical ambivalence that white Americans have had toward the African American community. This ambivalence is a result of choosing comfort over conviction.
Some see others wronged but remain silent because they see it as a means of maintaining civil rest. Thus, the African American community becomes the sacrificial lamb for civil rest.
Reconstruction after the Civil War was ended by President Rutherford B. Hayes in an effort to bring political peace between the North and South. It is amazing the denial of liberty was part of a political compromise in the land of the free.
Roughly 80 to 90 years later, African Americans protested for their civil rights and were seen as troublemakers.
It was not until four little girls were killed by a bomb at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, that the civil rights movement was taken seriously by white Americans.
Why do African Americans have to die before white Americans see our pain? Because some would rather remain silent and keep the status quo than become a proponent for change.
I expect this response from society in general, but I expect more from Christians.
Why? Because empowering the impotent is a part of our Christian duty. Is this not why Jesus said he had come?
In Luke 4:18, he said he had come partly, “To set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Why are those who bear his name, are baptized and endowed with his spirit, silent as they see the suffering of others?
This silence is disobedience to the Golden Rule: “Just as you want people to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). Silence is not only violence; for the Christian, silence it is sinful.
How much blood must the African American community shed at the hands of injustice before this sin is finally atoned?
How many George Floyds must there be before our white friends believe us when we say we are still oppressed?
I am happy to see this generation rise and stand up to social injustice but there should be more, and it should have been sooner.
I pray the peaceful demonstrations bring about real change in the American justice system and that this is not another hashtag-feel-good-fad that begins with a fury but fades into a flicker as new issues come to light.
To my white Christian friends, please know we are not the supernatural, superhuman, unrestrained, unruly, ethnic entity some portray us to be.
We want the same things you want: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We just do not want to die in order to receive that which we were promised by this country at birth.
In a country where civil laws are determined by a majority vote, minorities do not have enough power to affect the needed judiciary change. As Christians, it is our duty to join with those on the margins and in the minority by working for justice.
Silence is not only violence, it’s a sin. God, please forgive us.
Tyrone Keels is Minister of Technology at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. He holds an M.Div. from George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas.