KEEPING THE FAITH IN SPITE OF FERGUSON

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

Although I disagree with the Darren Wilson verdict as I understand the facts of this case, I am committed to the notion that a jury verdict must be respected and responded to with civility and restraint, even when there is vehement disagreement.

Therefore, I deplore and decry the rioting, looting, violence, burning, anarchy, and acts of disrespect, rebellion, and violence exhibited toward police and civil authorities in Ferguson, and elsewhere.

I am absolutely convinced that Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin would both be alive if the persons that killed them had not profiled them. Darren Wilson acknowledged that he assessed Michael Brown’s demeanor as “demonic” when he encountered him. There was nothing inherently “demonic” about Michael Brown or “suspicious” about Trayvon. Wilson nor Zimmerman would not have pulled the trigger as quickly—or in Wilson’s case, twelve times with Mike Brown being over 100 feet away when the last and fatal shot was fired—if they had encountered Justin Bieber, Johnny Manziel, or the Jonas brothers, even in the exact same locations and conditions that they encountered and killed Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin.

Dr. Richard Land genuinely apologized, and I believe that he was sincere concerning his Trayvon racial commentary. Yet, I believe that he honestly revealed a mindset that many Anglos have when they encounter Blacks, particularly where there is no previously existing positive relationship. Dr. Land stated something to the effect that it was permissible to profile Blacks based on crime statistics. Wow! That mindset explains why Zimmerman killed Martin, and why Wilson killed Brown. That mindset explains why there is an inherent caution, fear, and distrust when minority males and females encounter police officers. You are viewed as guilty, until proven innocent. And in the case of Wilson and Zimmerman, they began to hold court on the streets and render the death penalty.

Furthermore, why was Officer Wilson not required to write an initial police report? What a huge advantage he had to wait until he had knowledge of all the other testimonies and then go before the jury with his story. Why was Wilson not required to follow policy and make a report of the Brown shooting or be fired for failing to do so? It is that kind of behavior that leads to distrust between Blacks and the police departments of America. Why have Wilson’s supervisor not been reprimanded for not forcing him to complete a report near the time of the killing?

Perhaps Mike Brown’s fate was sealed when the video was revealed of him being engaged in a robbery. Black male life in America is generally devalued, as evidenced by higher salaries White males generally receive for doing the same work. When one has engaged in criminal activity, he is devalued even the more. Nevertheless, Mike Brown’s criminal behavior in the store did not merit him being shot twelve times—unarmed—in the streets. Even if Mike Brown assaulted Officer Wilson, as the evidence tend to indicate, once he was 100 feet removed from him, the shot that killed him was unjustifiable; and none of us know for sure how the altercation began between Wilson and Brown; but young Black males need to learn that is a fight that they will not and should not win. Respect for the law is simply a non-negotiable.

One reason why integration is still a challenge socially and ecclesiastically in America is because of the racial profiling mindset that Wilson, Zimmerman, and (according to Land) the majority of the SBC personalities engage in. In practical terms, if a crime occurs during the course of the SBC Annual Meeting and I’m present at the time, Dave Miller, Alan Cross, Bart Barber and David Worley are not first and foremost considered suspects. But, based on crime statistics, according to Zimmerman, I become “suspicious”; according to Wilson, I become “demonic,” and according to Land, I become a suspect. That line of thinking is horrible.

I remember Ed Stetzer writing a beautiful refutation to the notion that Black men should be viewed as suspects based on crime statistics. For that I shall always be grateful. Again, in the exact same scenarios, if they had been young White males, they would not have been labeled demonic or suspicious. Rand Paul makes it clear that as a teenager his behavior was capable of doing exactly as Mike Brown was doing; but he would not have gotten killed by a policeman for doing the exact same thing. Rand Paul told the naked truth. Rarely do you find this type of honesty spoken by politicians on an issue like this. Rand Paul has spoken profoundly on this matter. He is a ray of hope in this cesspool of darkness. May his tribe increase!

America needs a voice at this hour that can bring healing, hope, and unity to our nation—red, yellow, black, and white. There must be a clarion call for all of us—no matter our race or position—to value one another’s life. Agree or disagree with the jury’s verdict, but the tragedy of Ferguson is the taking away of a life that did not have to be.

In 1884, the Baptist Standard published an account of Rev. Allen Ralph Griggs, an outstanding Texas Black Baptist pastor of that era, addressing a group of more than 5000 men, Black and White, who had gathered for a public hanging. His words regarding the destruction of human life were so powerful that “the men dispersed, heads bowed, hats in hand, tears in many eyes, no longer interested in the sad spectacle. “

May the Lord raise up a voice to speak to us at this hour, so that we might disperse with “heads bowed, hats in hands, tears in many eyes, [and] no longer interested in the sad spectacle”!

In the meantime, we must keep the faith in spite of Ferguson, and keep looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. We must also seek healing and understanding among the races.

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