By Their Strange Fruit has details of the situation and important links to more information. As I white person in a nearly all-white northern U.S. city, I haven't been quite sure what to say, but I find the advice from Janee Woods below very helpful:
Becoming a white ally to black people in the aftermath of the Michael Brown murder
A lot of white people aren’t speaking out publicly against the killing of Michael Brown because they don’t see a space for themselves to engage meaningfully in the conversation so that they can move to action against racism. It’s not so much that they have nothing to say but rather they don’t see an opportunity being opened up for them to say something or to do something that matters. Or they might not be sure what to say or how to do it. They might have a hard time seeing a role for themselves in the fight against racism because they aren’t racist, they don’t feel that racism affects them or their loved ones personally, they worry that talking about race and differences between cultures might make things worse, or they think they rarely see overt racism at play in their everyday lives. And, sometimes, they are afraid. There’s a real fear of saying the wrong thing even if the intention is pure, of being alienated socially and economically from other white people for standing in solidarity with black people, or of putting one’s self in harm’s way, whether the harm be physical or psychological. I’m not saying those aren’t valid fears but I am challenging white people to consider carefully whether failing to speak out or act because of those fears is justified when white silence and inaction mean the oppression and death of black people.
Let’s talk about an active role for white people in the fight against racism because racism burdens all of us and is destroying our communities.I am out of town camping with my family this week, and I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said anyway. But my fervent prayer is that this incident will at last prove to be the turning point that will open the eyes of white people like myself across the country, to make real changes to halt the racism that's still going on in our nation. I want to echo the apology at Beccyjoy to the family of Michael Brown, to the citizens of Ferguson and to people of color across the nation:
I’m sorry. I’m sorry you’ve had to be so loud to get our attention. I’m sorry that another beautiful boy had to die to make us notice that you are oppressed. I’m sorry that no one is listening. I’m sorry that no one believes your experiences. I’m sorry that this is still happening. I’m sorry for the ignorant, invalidating, and racist comments you’ve had to deal with on top of everything else. I’m sorry that I’ve turned a blind eye to your struggle. I hear you, I believe you, I stand with you for justice. You deserve way better.I hope that "no one is listening" will change now; that we will listen, and pray, and try to effect change. As Christina Cleveland says so eloquently:
Can you see the suffering Christ in the oppressed, even the ones who aren’t responding perfectly to society’s oppression? Christ doesn’t just suffer for the innocent, the ones who don’t have the energy to fight back, or the ones who perfectly respond to injustice. He suffers for the ones who suffer now and sin in their suffering.I pray that we will see the suffering Christ in the oppressed and stop judging them for not being perfectly patient under oppression we have never experienced ourselves (and thus have no idea how we would handle it).
I ask my readers who are Christians to agree in prayer with these voices:
I began to hear that there was a distinct danger you face every day, if people just assume that you are dangerous because you are black and you are male. And I began to hear the stories of police brutality, of unnecessary aggression, of my sophomore boys being treated like criminals simply because of their bodies. . .
I began to see that my skin granted me access to pretty much anywhere I wanted to go. I began to see how no one ever starts out aggressively toward me, because I am never seen as a threat. I began to understand that my students, my colleagues, my neighbors were not granted the same access, the same pass. . .
I am praying the people of this country have softer hearts than mine. I am praying that we are broken over Mike Brown and that brokenness is only a beginning. I am praying we listen when we are told that this is only one of many. I am praying we hear when brown mothers tell us they fear for their babies’ lives. I am praying we do something when our eyes and ears are opened to injustice. I am praying we speak out, we reach out, we educate ourselves. I am praying we care.Five Minute Friday
Black men have the monopoly on unarmed civilian murder by an officer of the law. It’s a fact. As a Christian, I look to my community to share the burden, the questions surrounding racism in America and how we can move forward. I’m trying to navigate this without being written off as another angry black woman. And I don’t want to be quietly spiritually shunned from all the online communities I love, for saying what you have to already know.
I don’t have to tell you, do I? – Racism is real. . .
God you are greater, greater…
I sang softly, swaying back and forth wringing my hands. Eyes closed. . .
God wasn't upset with me for being angry. And He hadn’t asked me to be quiet. He took those keys with Holy Spirit force. Sometimes that’s what it takes.
Being Christian doesn’t exclude us from the conversation. We have to speak up. To be clear, I understand we aren’t all called to every conversation and maybe you won’t write about it, but standing in solidarity with a hashtag or sharing posts you’ve read that resonate with the spirit of Christ and reconciliation could be a beginning.
Shalom In the City
I can’t do anything tangible with these hands, but raise them high. Lord, we are restless for change and anxious for hope. We are witnesses of injustice. We are the women at the foot of the cross, empower us to stay through the torment so that we can be present to bind up wounds and then—see resurrection.
I raise my hands to God who out of his great love for his children heard their cries and carved a path towards justice when there seemed to be no way. Make a way in Ferguson, MO, Lord. Make a way and drown the Enemy of your peace in your waves of Justice.God bless all of you. See you next week.
Today, I raise my hands because the truth is Black Lives Matter and black kids don’t have to be college-bound for their deaths to be tragic. I raise my hands for the truth that Jesus identified with the poor, broken, marginalized, and ignored. I raise my hands because Jesus is our Truth and he will make us free.