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I’m White and You’re Black

I was recently leaving my barber shop with my 2 year old son, when we saw a police car driving by. My little one got excited and started waving. The officers waived back, and flashed their squad car lights. It made his day! I leaned over and asked him “what is the police officer’s job?” This is something I always ask him about figures of authority, his mother and I, the lifeguard at the pool, the security guard at the library, and in this case the policemen. His response is what I’ve taught him “to keep me safe”. I then came to the realization that this is not the case for my black friends.

The Philando Castile highly publicized shooting happened over a year ago. As the investigation ensued and the officer was acquitted, more information such as the dash cam video became available to the public. In the video you can hear a very calm, seated, seat belted black man tell the police officer that he is in possession of a firearm. What happened next was a highly agitated officer who ultimately fatally wounded the driver.

In the past, we’ve seen instances where a black suspect has assaulted an officer, argued with an officer, had a criminal record, ran away, or walked away, and seen those actions used as the justification for a fatal shooting. In this case, a perfectly calm, cooperative black man still ended up dead. I keep using the term “black man” because I believe it’s the key in this case. I will stray in the direction of assumption in saying that had the driver been a white man or woman, this would’ve ended quite differently.

I do not claim, assume, or believe that this officer is someone that hates black people. I do not claim, assume, or believe that this officer wanted to kill Philando Castile. However, I firmly believe the outcome is directly correlated to the fact that the driver was a black man. We live in a time where segregation in America is possibly more dangerous than ever before, because it is subtle. It’s always underlying ready to strike and spread, like a cancer that eats you alive from the inside. Just like cancer, it cannot be treated unless diagnosed.

Do I have the solution? Sure – it’s Jesus. He’s the answer to everything. He’s the answer to sin, which covers racism, bigotry, sexism, and everything that opposes loving your neighbor. What does this mean practically? I believe the first step in dealing with racism is to stop denying it exists, and bring it to the light. Proverbs 28 says “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy”.

As a white man in America, I say this “I’m white and you’re black. I will never be able to understand what you deal with and what you go through. I will never be able to understand what you tell your sons about police officers. I will never be able to deny that I get nervous walking by certain black men or driving through certain black neighborhoods. I will never be able to deny that racism, no matter how minuscule, is engrained in me. We are different and I might never be able to understand your world. My black brothers and sisters, I want to know. I want to understand. I want to love you unconditionally. Let’s start from here and with God’s grace, show the world that it’s possible to love people who are different from you. I’m white and you’re black.

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Ardi Shahini

Ardi is a son of Jesus, husband to Tiffany, and a father to Vincent and Victor. Has been serving as an elder for the past 8 years at Aletheia Norfolk Church in Norfolk, VA. He enjoys Italian soccer, fighting the establishment, and being proven wrong by wiser people.

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