I find myself thinking of the tragic murders of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
Police work is hard and dangerous.
And I think about how the murderer, a troubled soul if there ever was one, chose to claim his evil act was some sort of revenge for the killing of unarmed black men.
I saw some ugly things written about the police officers. I saw more ugly things come up as people have found a way to shift the subject that has been presented so forcefully over the past weeks that if you are a black man you are vastly more likely to die in an encounter with the police than if you are a white man.
And with that harsh fact on the ground, we’ve had an opening to discuss the matters of race, and prejudice, and racism in our culture.
It has had two parts.
The first allowing us to address some practical things, most obviously having body cameras on police as a gift to them and to the public. And with that calling a halt to the militarization of our police force and a call to community policing, instead.
The second and vastly more important, for us to look into the heart of prejudice and to consider how we are caught up within it, a rare and precious moment where each of us are invited to look into our hearts and to see that while yes, we have moved well past the horrors visited upon people of color, particularly people of African descent in our culture, we are still caught up in something that may in general be low key, but, in truth has the power to kill. Remember a black man is vastly more likely to die in an encounter with the police than a white man.
Something terribly important.
And something we’re in danger of losing as those who justifiably want to defend the police in their hard and dangerous work begin to shift the conversation to other ends.
We are in danger of losing something important, that call to look within our hearts.
I mourn the deaths of officers Liu and Ramos. Terrible. Horrible.
And I honor those who take up the hard work of police officers.
And, the fact remains. In our culture the current of racism, prejudice, when it comes to our communities of color, means if you’re a black man, in an encounter with the police, you are vastly more likely to die than a white man.
We’re, for the most part, grownups.
I would hope we can hold these two facts in our hearts at the same time.
And take these terrible events, and change the way we do things.
Is that asking too much?