Tony Robinson Non-Indictment: It's not easy to be a real Christian.
Ya'll may get tired of me or may not like me much after this post, but I'm putting on every hat I wear today.
First, before I begin my rant, let me state for the record that I am a Christian believer of the Apostolic (and Evangelical) faith. There appears to be several meanings of the Apostolic church these days, but those who know me know what I mean and where I'm coming from. Funny thing about the Christian religion, similar to the 6 degrees of separation theory, the same is probably truer than we care to admit about any doctrinal differences upheld between the numerous denominations which continue to divide and disembody the Christian faith. If Jesus is coming back for one church, we really need to fix this and in a hurry!
Anyway, I'm not here to talk doctrine, etc., I want to talk indirectly about the non-indictment of the medal decorated and celebrated officer who took Tony Robinson's life.
So, here we go:
Long ago I actually bought into the notion that Madison was a liberal town. Hey, I'm not saying it's good or bad. I'm not looking to insert my pastoral opinion right now on right and wrong; too much, not enough or too far or not far enough. Fact is, God is pretty liberal too. If He wasn't we'd all be dead; probably drowning in our sins! Wait, He promised not to do that again. Anybody seen a rainbow lately? Ok, don't stop reading. I'm moving on... My point, liberalism is a fabrication! How can you have the highest and most disproportionate education, poverty, and prison rates in the country and call yourself liberal/progressive? There must be multiple definitions of the word. Lol!
I should have known better... Scott Walker won. Twice!
Sad part is it isn't much better on the "Conservative" side either. If you're always pulling the lever, I'm sorry, marking your ballet for all the candidates on one side ("Liberals too"), you're not trying to get it right, you just want to be right. I love saying that. You're the person standing on the other side of the field shouting "we're better than you!" You're not even paying attention. You're just a homer with no real perspective. It's impossible for you to be objective. If the anti-Christ joins your party and gets your vote before the Lord returns how are you going to explain that to Jesus? You WILL be in heaven by then right? HELLO - NO ONE PERSON OR PARTY HAS ALL THE ANSWERS!!! Loyalty to man without or beyond reason is another form of idolatry! Whoredom! A lie! I'm so glad the Lord blessed me to learn this. It keeps me in check. Let me stop.
Look, a party or denomination or religion doesn't define me. Doctrine, maybe, but not those other nonessential things. (Some thing's we argue about are just plain ridiculous e.g., looks, style, color, money, etc.). The name on your team jersey doesn't make you, you make it. If the essence of the title has lost its savor, I'm moving off it! Unless, unless, I can't afford to. I can't afford to deny my Christianity. The word Christ is in it for one. More importantly, I know what the word suppose to mean and it's not "I'm perfect or better." My condition may be, but I'm still human too. A person sick in the hospital with some rare disease is still a human being even if the person in the next room is being treated for a splinter. Two different outlooks, both still bleed red. Oh, if you ask me, I'm a better servant today because of my failures. Today, I look back at a time when I thought I was "all that" when the truth is I was selfish, egotistical, mean, nasty, self righteous, judgmental, harsh, without compassion, unwise, I could go on. I thought my views were the only ones that mattered. Even if I were right about a few, and in some case I may have been, why would anybody else think any differently about their own views too? Get it?
In politics, it appears that "Conservatives" hold the floor as the devout ones. You all can't really believe that's true? Um, you do know the so called religious folks in Jesus day hated Him? The sinners loved Him. Before "you sinners" get too happy, the sinners joined the religious folks in crucifying Him. Oh I can back it up with scripture. You'd have to join my FRUITS weekly service and remind me though. Warning: I don't pick sides.
Don't worry, I'll connect the dots to Tony....
In the defense of those who don't consider themselves Christian... I find that more non-Christians or non-fronting Christians are willing to stand, fight and speak out for/against injustice... even go to jail for the sake of justice. The City of Madison Department of Civil Rights use to compile for its blackboard a compelling or (at least) interesting montage of historic American events. I said "use to", but I don't want to talk about. In any case, I remember studying the photos of those who stood with blacks during the civil rights struggle in the 60's and I couldn't BELIEVE how many mugshots of white men and women I went through that actually went to jail. Now I don't know if they were Christian, but there actions were. I say this because the origins of Christianity are like no other. A man (or God) gave up His life in order to establish this amazing movement. No one else has to die or be forced to join. It is the true essence of democracy. And so, when you get a "Christian" who actually does what he tells others to do, you got yourself something! You know I can talk a good game like anybody else and I am not afraid of an intellectual Apologetic debate at all, but I too will make an excuse in a hot second - especially with four kids. See? I told you. There are all kinds of excuses to be made, but at the end of the day, Jesus made none. It is the actions of those who stand, fight, go to jail, and are willing to die for justice, that cannot be discounted. Those actions used to belong to Christians, through whom many others were drawn. Will it ever be that way again? I sure hope so. The salvation of too many depends on it. Yes, actions speak louder than words, but without Christ those actions only bring about temporary solutions; a bandage on a much devastating disease of lust of the eyes, the flesh, and the pride of life.
On yesterday, Zion City hosted a Community Meeting that took place on the eve of District Attorney Ozanne's press conference in the Tony Robinson officer involved shooting (as some prefer to described this horrible tragedy). The meeting was beautifully arranged by Ananda Mirilli and featured the voices of M. Adams of Young, Gifted and Black, and former police chief David Couper. Brandi Grayson, who has truly become the face of YGB in my opinion, was also present. The forum was very well attended and a number of major local news outlets were present to capture the meeting.
After the event concluded, I met a local white woman and parent who spoke at length about her adopted black son. She was quite shaken and emotional about the conversation we were having trying to figure out what to do about this American civil epidemic in our country between law enforcement agencies, officers and urban communities and neighborhoods. Her main concern was that her son would eventually be one of the kids victimized by the current state of affairs and killing of black boys and men at the hands of law enforcement officers. In her words, "They're going to get him! I know, they're going to get him one day because an policeman is going to tell him to stop or sit down and he's going to run or respond too late."
Now, just to put things into perspective, her son is a lot closer to 6 feet tall than I am and only 12 years old. He has probably traveled more places than many adults have in a lifetime and has step into homes of people, family, friends and relatives who would have never entertained a kid of his ethnicity and background had he not been adopted. She couldn't reiterate enough how smart her son is. "He's a brilliant kid!" There's just one problem though: he's a kid diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder or Dysfunction (SID), a neurological disorder that results from the brain's inability to integrate certain information received from the body's five basic sensory systems. These sensory systems are responsible for detecting sights, sounds, smell, tastes, temperatures, pain, and the position and movements of the body. As you can see, she has a legitimate concern. The interesting thing about this passionate (white) lady is what she had to say towards the end of our conversation. Listen to this:
"If you want to gather, march, protest, let us do it. Ask us to go with you! Put me on the front line and ask the rest of us "whites" to join you on the front lines. We'll surround you. These young people. You see all the people who showed up today? We care! Many of us care. We'll do it. She said, I'm 53 years old (Old Gifted and White), never had a record, and I stand here today and I'm telling you I'm willing to be arrested. I'll go to jail if I have to. Ask us to do it! Am I crazy? If some say no, don't worry about it. Ask somebody else. Let us do it!"
I was moved! Really moved. She didn't talk Christian though her actions are that of a true Christian warrior!
We all know now that the decision has finally come out. We knew what it would be. It's sad when you can predict what a decision of this magnitude will be. Madison has demonstrated great resolve so far in holding our peace. But now the time has come to take action and do so together.
M. Adams, when asked if she would be willing to sit down with Chief Koval responded off guard, "dialogue implies that there is a horizontal relationship... That there is a shared level of power." (I can't remember everything she said only that she was brilliant.) In other words, it's difficult to negotiate or expect change when the playing field is uneven. And it is true, the level of power is dangerously tilted. However, I would argue that dialogue is a necessary form of recourse to create those relationships or at the very least point out the problem(s). But I think Adam's point is well made, we know what the problem is. What we need is to do something about the racist structural systems that continue to perpetuate the problem. The scariest part about all of this is that camera videos may be the only reason we are even remotely aware of what happens in these backyard law enforcement situations. God only knows how bad it really is or has been and for how long. The numbers don't lie!
Since the numbers don't lie, maybe we use them to our advantage as we move forward. Maybe we should take the advice of this dear white sister. She's my sister now. I don't know her name, but I hope God does or will soon. The coolest thing about all of this is that I really feel like I've made some real friends. Christian friends too! Sounds like an oxymoron huh? It's too the point now where I'm not even comfortable referring to them as white anymore. Maybe I/we should call a few more friends, a few more leaders. Maybe we should find out if we're just "token black friends" or do our white friends really see us as real friends and assets to their community? If they say no, don't judge them. It isn't easy to lay down your life for enemies, or friends, as Jesus called us, or worse, people you don't know. It's not easy to be a real Christian.