Ahmaud Arbery, LeBron James and Blamestream Media

 In civil rights, faith, news, racism

As someone who is “African-American,” I was actually reluctant to write about this tragic story. I’ve been writing about these issues for years. Not much has changed in our society’s reactions since I’ve written articles like “#BlackLivesMatter, White Guilt and the Marketing of Racism“, “Black Lives Matter…Sort Of” and “White Guilt and Black Privilege”.

If we still internalize every injustice, segregate ourselves along color lines, and invoke the past to justify every racial critique of every institution in American life (well, except for the abortion industry, of course), have we progressed? Though some churches have engaged in crucial conversations about “race,” we can’t keep coming back to the same faulty starting point.

In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired” of people being so easily baited and manipulated by the blamestream media. It amazes me the select injustices that go through the news’ magnification process. Blamestream media, always quick and intentional about colorizing narratives (only when it suits their agenda), have made sure everyone knows about the horrific killing of Ahmaud Arbery. His family and friends deserve justice. Sadly, his death is serving a bigger purpose for some who are hellbent on painting America as a (still) deeply racist country. It’s not 1962 when racism was State-enforced and codified into every aspect of our nation’s life. We are a much better America today on so many levels. When will we act like it?

Yet, this injustice will be exploited to promote a destructively false narrative like this pathetic tweet from LeBron James which claims: ”We’re [black people] literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!” #LieOfTheCentury. (The only hunting down King James experiences is by a mob of fans.) And for those out there repeating this poison, what’s your hope here? 

You can’t fight (alleged or actual) racism with more…racism. You can’t denounce prejudice and the violence that accompanies it with more…prejudice. 

Enough already. As Christians, we must stop letting the world misshape our worldview. Yes, we should mourn for those who mourn (Romans 12:15), especially for the family and loved ones who’ve had a precious life taken away from them. But we’re not called to distort for those who distort. In fact the very next verse (Romans 12:16) says: Live in harmony with one another. But we can’t live in harmony in the present when we allow ourselves to be defined by the discord of the past. Earlier in that same chapter we are admonished: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The world has a pattern. And we see the same response to it over and over again: grieving, blaming, regressing, repeat. The Godly pattern is very different: mourning, loving, transforming, repeat.

I’d like to know how many people decrying the horrific killing of this young man also equally decried the recent horrific killing of Paul and Lidia Marino, an elderly white Italian couple in their mid-80s by a young black man named Sheldon Francis. He shot them while they were visiting their deceased son’s grave in a veteran’s cemetery! Where are the protests? Where are the #StandingWithMarinos hashtags? Are you lamenting for gang victims? Are you outraged for the store owners assaulted by a mob of teens? Are you wounded for the elderly Asian man attacked by 20 year-old African-American DeWayne Grayson? Are you mourning for women and children slaughtered for being Christians? Are you grieving for the 2,362 defenseless lives killed in America today in the name of “reproductive justice”? 

I’m sick and tired of the practice of exploiting a tragedy to bludgeon entire people groups. I’m even more frustrated with some Christians who have been forgiven of their own past refusing to forgive others—especially of a past for which the accused (and I’m not referring to the McMichaels here) are not even responsible. “Racial” reconciliation cannot happen if we continue to see everything in life through the broken prism of race. Race is a human construct…a made-up thing. True reconciliation and redemption are Godly things.

I can’t help but remember the racism-fueled attack on churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina back in 2015. Dylan Roof, a mentally ill man, slaughtered nine precious lives while they were in a prayer meeting. He was quickly convicted by a jury of nine white and three black jurors. The extraordinary actions of the families, violently stripped of some of their loved ones, shocked the nation. Family members told Roof that they forgave him. The sister of one of the slain said: “We have no room for hating. We have to forgive.”

What the McMichaels did was evil. And I know we’re still waiting for all of the facts. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested the McMichaels within two days of taking on this case. Justice is often slow in coming, but I believe—I hope—it will rain down on this situation. But the same heart of darkness that led those men to carry out such a heinous act—the same heart that will so quickly destroy those made in the image of God—is evident in every town, every city, and among every hue of skin. 

It is a SIN problem, not merely a SKIN problem. 

You can change all of the “systemic structures” all you want. If the soul of a person doesn’t have the right framework, that brokenness will manifest itself into the destructive behaviors and unjust acts that can mark all of us–white, black and every hue in between.

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Bethany Bomberger with her family.