Community//

True Life Stories With 7 Great Lessons

Treat everyone with kindness, communicate, and bridge the gap.

Unity

I watched the news and saw a police officer holding Mr. Floyd to the ground with his knee; it was appalling. Having come from a law enforcement background, it was an obvious violation of the use of force policy and a clear abuse of Mr. Floyd.

They handcuffed him. There was absolutely no need to restrain him further unless resisting. If a suspect resists, there are ankle cuffs. He wouldn’t have gone anywhere. The choke hold referred to as the carotid restraint limits blood flow to the brain, rendering a person unconscious. Hold that pressure long enough and a person can die.

Thus, the passing of Mr. Floyd.

I understand why people are protesting this incident. It upsets them. I’m upset. It should not have happened and any officer with a lengthy history on the force should have known better. Add this incident to name after name, after name, after name, of others that died, and it becomes a pattern requiring attention.

In 2016, a similar incident happened in Dallas, Texas to a young white man named Tony Timpa. In his case, he was off his mental health medication and took some other drug. He knew he was in trouble and called 911 for help. Police restrained him for about 13-minutes, repeatedly laughed at him during the incident and he died. Police body-worn camera video shows the entire incident, including his death.

These incidents should not happen, and I believe there should be outrage for both Mr. Timpa and Mr. Floyd. Change is necessary. Training standards, levels of behavior, and appropriate legislation are needed to prevent this kind of failure from happening… to anyone.

Where the Response Fails

Across our nation cities already stressed by a pandemic, are now burned to the ground. Looters from other areas are stealing from businesses struggling to stay alive after a quarantine.

Senior citizens, the disabled and economically challenged with no transportation for food or medicine, are hamstrung even further when their neighborhoods become a war zone.

How does theft, violence & destruction honor Mr. Floyd?

It doesn’t.

I’m not suggesting our nation doesn’t have racial conflict. It does. Perpetrators of the destruction are also destroying the argument of the same people that want to live safely and be heard. For racial issues, let’s talk about it and keep talking until a viable change happens. For the violence, theft and destruction, let’s call it what it is.

Since God created all people in His image, racism is a SIN.

My Own Experience

I grew up in multi-cultural areas full of conflict. As a kid growing up in the 1960s, there were always struggles between groups of people, and fear of one another. I remember hearing some adults talking about “those people”. I never really knew who “those people” were. I just knew that it was someone other than us.

Then, in elementary school, I saw classmate friends from different cultures just as paranoid as me. I realized that to them, WE were “those people”.

I then made a choice to treat everyone with kindness.

Tent Revival in Antigua

I’ve been on the receiving end of racism, seen it up close, and it’s not comfortable. In 1996, my last government ship had a tough operational schedule, and I was feeling pretty beat up. Shortly after a hurricane washed over the West Indies islands, we docked in Antigua. The place was a mess but everywhere I went, people were kind and hopeful after the storm. It’s probably the only place I’ve visited where I heard Gospel Reggae music played as I walked throughout the town. No one looked like me and everyone interacted well together.

I saw a sign advertising a tent revival and decided to go. With our schedule, the ship didn’t have religious services and I needed to hear from God. I walked across town that night and found the big tent and walked in.

While I was the only white face in a crowd of about 1,200 people, I looked forward to the service. I sat four rows from the front and the worship began. Everyone around me were pleasant and I believe we were all there together as one group… seeking time with God. The preacher and his wife were visiting from the U.S. and he called for all the men to come to the front for prayer to lead their families.

Even though, I was comfortable in the crowd, I pretty much decided I’d be an observer and pray by staying where I was. Two large black women behind me wouldn’t have that. They grabbed me and pulled me to the front. I think that was their way of saying, “You’re one of us and you’re welcome here.” That was an encouraging feeling as I was there in need of a Godly message.

Unfortunately, that encouragement was short-lived when the American preacher looked at me and said through the microphone, “Okay WHITE MAN…You can come up too.”

The entire tent went silent and my spirit immediately sunk. I went from happy and excited to something that felt like a kick in the gut. There was an instant sadness and sense of fear. I wondered if I really was welcome.

This was a life-awareness moment for me when I wondered how many others throughout history experienced the same thing… just for being the person God created them to be.

I had no idea what would happen next so I just closed my eyes to pray… and hoped for the best. The preacher prayed and I made it back to my seat. The two women were waiting for me and they hugged me and gave me encouragement. Oh…how I needed those hugs at that moment. The preacher gave his sermon but my mind was spinning in an emotional quandary. I don’t recall the message. The music came back to life and I felt that was a good time to make my exit.

Making My Exit

As I walked through a sea of people and stepped out into the evening darkness, I could feel the sadness and oppression envelope me. Perhaps it was the fleeting sense of safety. The experience seemed ironic; a short time earlier, I felt excited and secure. Then, it all dissipated through the words of an American preacher.

I wondered how in the world I was going to get back to the ship through the dark, unlit streets. I was on the left side of the road making my way back when four guys caught up with me on the other side of the street. They shadowed me the whole trip back; all the while I prayed. I reached the ship without incident and I don’t know if God sent four black angels to protect me, or those two women sent them on my behalf.

Life Lessons Learned

Here are seven lessons I learned through that experience:

  1. In all things, Trust God: ”In all things, God works for good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.” –Romans 8:28.
  2. Help and support may come from people that don’t look like you.
  3. When you’re the minority, you might experience fear and uncertainty, but it does NOT minimize who you are in God’s eyes.
  4. It doesn’t matter what race or culture a person comes from. If they receive unkindness through someone else’s ignorance or poor choices, that sad and scary feeling deep within can be mixed with racism.
  5. The lessons we feel the strongest are the ones we remember.
  6. We all have a responsibility to show each person kindness and respect, no matter who they are.
  7. Racism is not of God — It’s a SIN issue.
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