Maybe you’ve never smiled and greeted people you’ve passed on the street, only to have them avoid eye contact, clutch their belongings, and quickly walk away. I have. Maybe you’ve never been pushed against a wall, held at gunpoint, and handcuffed by police (who are supposed to protect you) because you “look like a suspect we were looking for.” I have (and I looked nothing like that suspect). All of these incidents are minor and none of them significantly threatened my life. Most, if not all, of my black friends have been through similar situations. And countless others have endured much, much worse.
If you’ve never experienced this sort of thing, you may not understand why this case resonates so deeply with us. But when I hear his story, I hear my story. And my father’s story. And my son’s story. I have no idea what happened after Mr. Zimmerman made assumptions about that young man, but before the altercation, there was nothing extraordinary about the incident. It happens every single day.
Profiling is real, and it’s often racial. Some people think they have the gift of discovering character just by looking at a person. Just like a dark blue uniform and badge means law enforcement, dark skin and a hoodie means lawbreaker. No conversation has happened, but an imaginary rap sheet is attached. Violent character is assumed. They think about the gangster image they saw on TV, or the danger their parents told them about, or the horrible crime they witnessed – and they place all of that baggage on a person they’ve never even met. We never have the right to draw unwarranted conclusions about a person– even if they do turn out to be troubled.
These kinds of assumptions are disgusting and false. God made all human beings in His image with value and worth. Yet all of us are sinful and fail to display God’s image as we should. Every single one of us can turn from our sins, trust Christ, and be made right by our Creator. But racism picks and chooses which people these truths should be applied to. Racism says, “I’m valuable and good, and all of those people are wicked.”
This prideful rebellion against God and opposition to His Gospel should be of interest to God’s people. We shouldn’t ignore it, and we shouldn’t be afraid to address it. The Good News is that Jesus came to die for both racist and non-racist sinners. Former enemies can become friends in Him, and benefit from the exact same grace. Who will step up, address this issue, and proclaim the truth? Whether or not you think race is a factor in this case, you can’t deny that race is a factor in the lives of so many of us every day.
Make sure to read the rest of this heartfelt post here.
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