DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE
By Rev. Howard E. Jones, Jr
This latest shootings by police officers killing Black men continues this saga of injustice, and brutality. The killing of Keith Lamont Scott, 43 in Charlotte, N. C. on Tuesday, Sept. 13, by African American Officer Brentley Vinson and the Tulsa, Oklahoma killing of 40-year old Terence Crutcher by the white female officer, Betty Shelby that took place on Friday, September 16, 2016, is heart-wrenching. With the added activities of violent protests, this situation is horrendous. It is entirely too much! This first response of police required to serve and protect the public, now automatically killing African American males, is troubling and without question, senseless.
These police shootings are actions that defy a single description. Is it racism? Is it economically driven? Is it attitude? Is it a lack of training? Is it fear? Is it ruthless? Is it Satan?
From my vantage point, I see a need for change: in attitude, actions, provisions, opportunities, training tolerance, education, financing and jobs. We have to start teaching love at home-real responsible love, letting it extend to our neighborhoods, communities, schools and all of Nashville and beyond.
I see a need for people of faith to stand up and speak out. What I see every day is a need to change the world for the better. This change begins with prayer and following the word in the Bible. Still we have to apply this word to our current world. It is up to ministers and pastors to lead, to teach and preach the need to make the “Word” relevant in 2016.
I want our Black boys and men to be educated, learned, responsible and alive! My vision is that we begin a tutoring program for boys in the Pearl-Cohn school zone and involve students from the area colleges to first focus on academics, but most importantly talk about the life skills and survival for these age groups.
I see us up lifting our boys to become strong, vibrant, decisive, caring men. This seemingly may not stop a bullet, but with Christ at the helm, it can and it will make a positive difference. And too, teaching them civic responsibility to vote, and to help them understand voting does make a difference is a big challenge that can reap positive results. This act is protest at the ballot box and demonstrates civic responsibility that extends the protest from the streets to the political arena.
We are all asking, How long will the killings of African Americans by police officers continue? From Trayvon Martin to Terrance Crutcher, and many who are not popularized in the media. In Psalm 6:3, we ask How long, O Lord, how long? What is this? Who can stop it? We can and we will. We are stronger working together.
We all have to admit that racism exists in this country and address those issues in order to find common ground to exist cohesively and learn to love each other. If we don’t deal with it, we will certainly destroy each other; then no one succeeds, and we all are defeated in the eyes of Christ Jesus.
We cannot remain silent and turn the other way. We must look the issues straight-forward and devise plans to change the way things are going. As Rev. Curtiss Paul DeYoung said, “When whites are killed by police it is a last resort, not a first response. Whites must recognize how deeply intertwined anti-black racism is in our perceptions and actions … especially in our policing. Denial of this is an act of racism.
How long will we refuse to hold law enforcement accountable? The systems of policing in the United States are clearly broken or not functioning. In all of our communities we must take action to enact legislation that changes these systems.” VOTE!
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” These killings involve all of us; all races, all genders, all economic levels. We have to be able to see it.
From what I see, we can change this trend and so far we are blessed in Nashville not to experience such travesties. In fact, we hold up Officer Matthew Cammran, who showed empathic restraint in April of this year, when he was attacked. He never pulled his gun to protect himself or stop his attackers, and he could have. Nashville can be a model to other cities, but it takes all of us to show that we respect each other and demand that respect in every facet of our lives.
This is not only my vision…I am simply speaking for many who are crying out for a better way and for saving our Black boys and men. We have got to understand this vision, review our temperament and be moved to action. Let the people say, Amen!