NOTE: In honor of Ahmaud Arbery, I’m surrendering my blog today to someone who understands the suffering of Black Americans better than I ever could. Please listen to what my friend, and sister in Christ, Michele Smith Lindo has to teach us about what it means to be Black in America today.
One Nation Under God by Michele Smith Lindo
One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Sounds promising and almost believable doesn’t it? For some of us in this great country, we haven’t fully realized the beauty of liberty and justice.
I am the mother of two African American men. I am also blessed to be the grandmother of an intelligent and academically gifted African American grandson.
Unfortunately, as the mother of African American sons I have had to raise them quite differently than how my counterparts raise their sons. You see, I had to teach an entirely different class not usually taught in our Nation’s curriculum. My husband and I recognized it was our responsibility to teach our sons how to respond and interact with the police.
As a prior NYC Police Officer, I taught them to never argue with an officer and to always comply; even if that meant they were arrested. I taught them that during traffic stops they must ensure their hands were always at the 10 & 2 positions on the steering wheel.
They also had to be mindful to have their license and registration readily accessible prior to the officer’s arrival at the window of their vehicle. This was because I never wanted them to be squirming and fishing to retrieve their wallets from their back pockets.
I taught them that at all cost they were to remain as calm as humanly possible because an officer “fearing for his life” can at times translate into: the subject of the traffic stop was “acting suspicious and looked nervous.”” Shots fired” is often the next statement which follows.
I further taught them that at times white officers and white America will stereotype African Americans for insignificant things such as they way in which our hair naturally grows from our scalps, our choice of clothing style, our speech patterns and also because of the neighborhoods we may reside in.I taught my sons, the little boys I birthed and love immensely, that this was the means by which they would make it to adulthood. We would often have to remind our sons there are rules for some and then there are rules for others. This reminder was specifically used to remind them of their behavior when interacting with white individuals in authority, especially teachers….especially teachers.
Its honest to say, I feared for the safety of my sons’ lives. Not due to gang violence or black on black crime but at the hands of the police who took oaths to protect and serve as well other white Americans they would have to encounter on this journey called life.
They learned their lessons well as both of my sons have successfully made it to adulthood. Regrettably, in the heated climate of today, racism seemingly roams boldly down our streets to snatch the lives of many young African American men. These murders, or manslaughters, appear to be applauded and dare I say condoned in a land where criminal charges for these deaths never seem to stick. It’s in this place, this most tragic place, that many African American mothers are unable to boast a story like mine.
Fear is taught as well as caught. Fear is a contagious cancer which doesn’t have to be fatal. If we simply paused and understood that each and every single one of us has everything inside of us which pertains to life and godliness , fear wouldn’t exist and this cancer would dry up. We would then be able to look within and manifest all of what’s inside of us while simultaneously being able to applaud others who don’t look like us.
The Kingdom of God is inclusive, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free. We have the ability to bring Heaven on earth. We have the ability to truly make this one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
In memory of Ahmaud Arbery and the other fallen African American men who have gone before him.
Michele Smith Lindo
Hope Mills, NC
Keith Giles is white, middle-class American Christian, raised by white, middle-class American Christians, who is slowly learning how to listen to people who have had a very different experience of America and Christianity than he has.