During a recent InterVarsity conference, my friend Terri had said something that really captured how I felt:
“The conversation around race in American media is very much a black and white conversation. In a spectrum between black and white, I don’t know where to find yellow.”
Asian Americans aren’t consistent in this conversation – you can find them on both sides of the conversation but more often than not, you find them silent.
“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it”
(1 Corinthians 12:26)
If one part suffers, then every part suffers. I feel with the African American community, I feel their pain, their grief, their frustrations with the Grand Jury.
But, I also feel with the police officers, and I understand that that’s not the most popular thing to do right now in my own communities. I have a friend who’s been studying and training to become a police officer, and his passion for the law is something I find inspiring. These are people who choose to risk their lives to protect complete strangers when no one else volunteers for the job.
Growing up in Oakland, one of the most common thing I saw other kids at school wearing were “R.I.P” shirts. They had friends or families who had died due to gang violence. It wasn’t until I moved away that I realized that that wasn’t normal. Gang violence and intra-racial violence kills more people in Oakland than police violence ever will.
How frustrating it must be for cops around the world. How frustrating it must be for those families who have had children lost to gang violence but no one in the media to talk about it. When a child is killed in West Oakland from gang-violence, no one knows about it. But I have known far more people killed by gangs than by police and it would be difficult to convince me it’s more pressing to talk about police-on-citizen violence than citizen-on-citizen violence.
It’s important to talk about Ferguson, and the failure of the prosecution system. Fury is important. Fury fuels discussion. At the same time, people must remain constructive and to keep a level head. After this, there will be infinite more places we need to have this conversation. Ultimately, I end with words from SF’s Public Defender:
“It is important that communities throughout this country re-evaluate and reform our processes by which justice is determined. We must work to ferret out biases that threaten the very foundation of society and taint decisions rendered by our justice system.”