When We’ll Finally Care About Michael Brown

michael brownIn a news cycle that has been absolutely overrun by sadness and death lately, there’s one death that absolutely, positively, must not be overlooked: the death of an 18-year-old named Michael Brown. Brown was recently walking down the sidewalk chatting with a friend when he was abruptly executed by police in the streets– in full view of witnesses.

There was no firefight. No obvious cause according to eye witnesses. Instead, Brown (completely unarmed) was shot not once, but multiple times by a white police officer while standing with his arms up in the air.

Michael was a kid excited about his future. Last week he was preparing to go to Vatterott College, but today, both he and that dream are dead. Like so many others needlessly killed (who strangely enough match his skin color), his death was a senseless death at the hands of a white police officer. I wish I could say this kind of thing was a rare event– but it’s not. Sadly, I see it happening all the time. Just a few weeks ago it was a man named Eric Garner who was hassled by police after Garner broke up a fight between two other individuals. When police tried to arrest him for supposedly selling non-taxed cigarettes, Garner protested. The police response? They chocked him to death right on the sidewalk in plain view of the community– and on camera! I’ve seen Garner being killed with my own eyes.

Police brutality in America is a situation that’s out of control, but one many are unaware of because it generally doesn’t affect “us”. However, if you follow a page like Cop Block, your eyes will be opened to the daily barrage of police brutality and abuse of authority.

Racial minorities typically bear the brunt of it.

Furthermore, it’s not simply an issue of escalating police-on-citizen violence– the entire system and culture attached to it is rotten from the inside out. We live in a world where white children can go down the street and play at the playground just fine, but if racial minorities do the same thing, they’re viewed with suspicion.

White kids can dress however they want, and they’re just kids. If black kids wear a hoodie, they’re considered to be up to no good and can be shot for no reason.

Let’s not even talk about incarceration statistics, because you can probably guess which kid is most likely to end up in jail.

The question for me becomes, when will we finally care about Michael Brown and all of the others like him?

I think the caring will come soon, but for all the wrong reasons. The violent and racist system that destroys the lives of children of color on a daily basis is about to start impacting conservative, white families.

You see, for the last 15-20 years, a compelling number of conservative, white families have been joining the international adoption movement. As a result, there are now many white parents who are completely oblivious (raising children of color as if they are white) to the fact that their children of color are about to be confronted with a system that is stacked against them and doesn’t care that their parents are white. The true outrage will come when it is black children of white parents who are hassled by police, shot in the street by those who supposedly “protect and serve”, or who are legally shot under stand-your-ground laws for wearing a sweatshirt that makes someone “feel unsafe”. Only then will they realize that instead of what our parents taught us (“police are your friends and are there to help you”), isn’t the best thing to teach children of color. In the non-white world, there’s a very, very different discussion to be had with children regarding interacting with police, how you dress, or who you walk down the street with. Many of my white friends would think I were crazy for teaching my daughter what I teach her about police– but this is reality and what raising children of color looks like.

We have a broken system and a broken culture… and to be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure how we’ll fix it. However, I do know this: we can’t fix a problem that we’re unaware of, or deliberately ignore in order to make ourselves feel more comfortable.

I fear that awareness of the system and determination to fight the systemic injustices will only come when Michael Brown has a white mom.

When that day comes it will be the right outrage, but for all the wrong reasons.

I pray such a day will come sooner, because not one more Michael Brown should have his life snuffed out before his time.

 

About Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey, is an Anabaptist author, speaker, and blogger. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Theology & Missiology), is currently a 3rd year Doctor of Missiology student (a subset of practical theology) at Fuller Seminary, and is a member of the Phi Alpha Chi Honors Society. His first book, Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, is available now at your local bookstore. He is also a contributor for Time, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Evangelicals for Social Action, Mennonite World Review, has been a guest on Huffington Post Live, and is one of the CANA Initiators. Ben is also a syndicated author for MennoNerds, a collective of Mennonite and Anabaptist writers. Ben is also co-host of That God Show with Matthew Paul Turner. Ben lives in Auburn, Maine with his wife Tracy and his daughter Johanna.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


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