The day that the grand jury decision came out following the death of Michael Brown, I was out shopping and running errands. My path crossed a number of African Americans doing the same thing I was, except for one thing. They were obviously mourning. One man in particular was walking with his chatty young family, but his mind seemed far away, and his body language spoke pain and despair. As I noted the painful composure of these fellow city dwellers, I had the urge to run up to them and put my arms around their necks and say I was sorry.
I resisted the urge because they were mostly men and they would think I was crazy. But I hurt for them.
And I have hurt for the whole situation that our country keeps finding itself in. I want to add something constructive to the conversation, but what can I say?
Much has been said in these months. Some of what has been shared has helped me process my own thoughts. Other thoughts I’ve heard and read, represented through words or images and emotions have been shocking and even repulsive.
And this is where I am today, Church. You people with the same skin color that I have: we have got to listen.
King Solomon said it first, that there is a time to speak and a time to listen. It is time for us to listen.
Have you ever been that person who is feeling uncomfortable in a situation where someone is grieving a loss, and have completely run over the feelings of the one needing to grieve? I have. We don’t mean to, but sometimes instead of acknowledging or coming alongside of someone who is hurting, we crash in with our distraction, our defense, and our need to be in control. We say dumb things that negate and dismiss the true grief happening. We act as if we know exactly what they’re thinking, feeling. We compare their grief to other things, to something we ourselves went through, to something we read about. We might throw in blame or sometimes we flat out expose everyone to our raw emotions.
But we don’t listen.
So instead of me saying much more I would practically BEG you to read this interview, broken up into two parts. It is the piece that spoke to me most in terms of how to navigate this painful time for our black brothers and sisters. How I as a white person can choose to make the situation better instead of worse. Words DO matter. And so does a listening ear. Are you listening? #Iamlistening