Most people who truly know me, would say that I am not a very outspoken person. I keep a lot of my thoughts to myself (or reserve them for my classes), but I have been wrestling for sometime with my memories. Memories of privilege. Memories of opportunity. Born in Inglewood, California, a few blocks from the Lakers Forum (there you go – you know my team), I was whisked out of Los Angeles (well known as the white flight of the 1970s) into the suburbs of Orange County where I grew up in a white and wealthy community, dominated by suffocating materialism. I often found myself face to face with law enforcement officers. Officers who showed great restraint in the midst of circumstances in which they would have had every right to enforce the law – which would have led to grave consequences to myself and friends.
As I reflect back on my youth, I was a privileged young white male who found mercy more often than I deserved by law enforcement. Whether it was the frequent traffic stops or the frequent mischievous acts that landed me in the back of patrol cars. Police showed mercy on a regular basis. Contrast this with the results from the Ferguson report:
From 2012 to 2014, 85% of people subject to vehicle stops by Ferguson police were African-American, 90% of those who received citations were black, and 93% of people arrested were black.
In 88% of the cases in which Ferguson police officers reported using force, it was against African-Americans. From 2012-2014 black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during traffic stops, but 26% less likely to be found in possession of contraband.
Scripture calls for equality in ways that are not often found in our public conversations. Equality would mean equal rights and fair handling of all cultural and ethnic groups regardless of religious backgrounds, political ideologies or economic statuses.
Take a look at James 2:1-4
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
I have great respect for law officers and am grateful for their service. I am simply calling on all officers and those given power and authority to show fair treatment to all people groups. I am especially grateful for those who showed mercy on me as a young person.
It’s time we reflect on Scripture and it’s role in creating a fair and just society that bows to its Creator.