Michael Brown and My White Son

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Why would a young white local pastor and church planter from South Kingstown Rhode Island write about Micheal Brown and Ferguson Missouri?

I don’t want to tell my son one day that I was silent during another historic moment in our country as a pastor and follower of Jesus. This morning as I held my son in my arms and reflected on what has been happening in Ferguson I was ruminating over a blog post by Acts 29 President and Pastor Matt Chandler on white privilege.

Chandler writes:

“I don’t have to warn my son in the same ways that a black dad has to warn his son. I have never had to coach my son on how to keep his hands out of his pockets when going through a convenience store. Many of my black brothers are having these conversations with their boys now. Again, the list goes on. It has been my experience that there are few things that enrage a large portion of white people like addressing racism and privilege. We want to move past it, but we are not past it. Clearly, we are not past it. So, let’s press in to it.”

We are not past the reality of privilege and racism in America and I’m pressing in to it. As I looked into my sons beautiful blue eyes and his growing blonde hair this morning, I didn’t have a moment of white guilt but Christian compassion towards the black dads who have to warn their beautiful black sons in ways that I will never have to. I remember a time in my rebellious youth when I was caught running away from multiple cops because of some disorderly conduct on a local side street only to be tracked down, arrested, and eventually sent home that night. I never had to be concerned that I would be shot at six times or killed even as I resisted arrest. The same isn’t true for Michael Brown and millions more like him.

I remember being excited as an elementary student when we celebrated Martin Luther King. We joyfully celebrated his speeches and learned about how he marched for freedom and justice. I remember thinking of him as the messiah of racial reconciliation, and that racism and injustice had been erased from America and we could now move on in perfect harmony with one another and celebrate racial reconciliation every Martin Luther King Day. This wasn’t just youthful ignorance but in many ways it’s the prevailing belief of our generation. I’m thankful for Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement but this moment reminds us of how blind and numb we can become to the racism and injustice that still exists in our fallen world. This moment is not about the teenage lifestyle or behavior of Michael Brown but about the insanity of his death. The outrage for justice that this moment has induced is not only justified but long overdue. We must address the reality of racism and privilege. As Chandler writes, “we want to move past it, but we are not past it. Clearly, we are not past it. So, let’s press in to it”.

The events in Ferguson have reminded me about my need and our need to have greater awareness about the racism and injustices that still exist in our world. We can know something exists but still be silent and numb to the reality of white privilege, racism, and injustice. We don’t have to be on the streets of Ferguson to make our voices heard and work towards justice. Violence is not the answer but neither is silence.

When I left my son today to go to work, I prayed for him. I prayed that the privileges that he has been given as a white male will not lead him to guilt or ignorance but towards awareness and action as a citizen of America and more importantly as a citizen of another kingdom. The kingdom of Jesus, the true Messiah of racial reconciliation who has truly set us free to bring awareness and action in the hope for justice and human flourishing for everyone.

Pastor Stephen Mook

Here’s some important resources by fellow Pastors that are helping to bring needed leadership to the larger Church in this moment. Please continue to keep Michael Brown’s family, the people of Ferguson and our world in your prayers.

Matt Chandler:

http://www.thevillagechurch.net/the-village-blog/more-on-ferguson-and-white-privilege/

http://www.thevillagechurch.net/sermon/holiness-and-humility/

Leonce B. Crump:

http://www.renovationchurch.com/sermons/our-response-to-ferguson/