The year was 2006. I was employed at a small consulting firm. The husband-and-wife team of owners was out of the office so one other employee and myself were the only two people in the unassuming two-story office building on a typically cold, January morning in Denver. The other worker, Margaret, and I had little in common. She was in her fifties, I, in my thirties; she had grown children and small grandchildren, I had neither; she is white, I am black. The singular thing we had in common is that we worked for the same company.
As someone who ran from controversy and quite frankly, don’t stand sure-footed when handling it today, I am certain that I did not initiate a sure-to-be controversial conversation about race relations in America, but I was in the middle of a tête-à-tête on that very topic with Margaret. She made a statement, then I made a statement, then she did, and being ill-prepared and too exhausted to continue the dialogue, I made an attempt to end it with,
“Well, racism is definitely still alive and well in America”, to which Margaret replied, “Well, at least there aren’t lynchings anymore.”
The year is 2020. Yesterday, on May 25th, some fifteen years after Margaret assured me that lynchings no longer occur, George Floyd, a black man, was lynched by four white police officers who suspected him of “forgery in progress”, a crime for which the punishment in any of the fifty states in this union is as minimal as a fine and as severe as imprisonment.
In not one of the states in this union is the penalty death, much less death in the street by men who chose an occupation with an oath “to protect and serve”.
What my white friends can do: examine your own heart. Honestly look inward and see how your heart and your mind are at odds with one another. If they do reconcile such evil, ask God to show you how they don’t. He will show you, whether you believe in him or not.