We have a child in our home who sometimes becomes insolent and uncooperative. When we first blended our families I was one of those parents who thought (mistakenly) that our child needed more punishment. I thought our child was acting out of disrespect and pure mean-ness. I am the first to admit that I responded to this child by punishing and becoming angry. We tried everything with this child, every punishment method there is – grounding, spanking, time-outs, removing all the things in this child’s room, it was crazy the consequences this child did not respond to.
I have learned the most difficult way possible that my response to this child only fueled the insolence and disobedience. I have learned that there are times this child shuts down. Sometimes my asking this child to do something or to stop doing something, my requests are momentarily seen by this child as a threat. This child will literally shut down, sometimes eyes glaze over and I cannot lie, it looks like flat out disobedience and disrespect. It looks like defiance! Clear, flat out defiance! My natural response to that defiance in the past was my own anger and shock that this child dared to act in this way – and I reacted.
Through much studying, therapy sessions, unbelievable confrontations and copious amounts of tears, I have come to realize that my behaviors only escalated this child’s behavior. The angrier I got, the more I punished, the more this child was going to act out and the more this child was going to appear to defy me. I learned that this child was not acting out of defiance to me necessarily, but that this child’s body mentally, emotionally, and physically shut down beyond ability to control. I learned that removing this child from the situation, sending to room with a reminder that child was being defiant and when child was willing to cooperate child could return to the family, was the most effective solution. My calmness and my refusal to escalate has become crucial in managing our household.
Simply allowing this child time to process the request, decide the request is not unreasonable, and determine that it is in best interest to cooperate, allows this child the ability to return to the situation with clarity and compliance.
It pains me to think there will be times when this child is not able to remove self and process, and then decide to become compliant in self’s best interest. I watch the videos of the girl in SC and I realize that she needed a moment to collect herself and determine that what was being asked of her was not unreasonable – and that her refusal to do what was being asked was her own body shutting her down emotionally, physically, and mentally. That shut-down looks an awful lot like defiance. And we as a society are taught and continue to repeat the adage that defiance requires spanking or throw-downs.
Whether this officer acted out of racism is anyone’s best guess, but I can tell you that society has colored all of our interactions to believe that when children act out they need violence. Humans have a strange relationship with punishment – we think our children need punishment in order to solve all human behavior issues, but I and every other psychologist can tell you that punishment is violence. And violence is never the answer. I’m still seeing comments in response to this case that if this child had only been spanked she would have respected that cop – and I can tell you first hand that when the human body shuts down in these instances it has nothing at all to do with punishment or lack thereof. It has everything to do with how the human brain perceives threat and everything to do with fight or flight. When the body cannot fight and cannot flee it shuts down.
I’m not sure we can know precisely why this child shut down the way she did, just as I frequently do not understand why our child shuts down. But I know that anger and violence only escalate the situation and remove the human dignity of all parties involved. There are methods to de-escalate situations where children and teens become uncooperative, and those methods should never involve violence or abuse. Chances are, if that officer had said, “You have two minutes to place your phone right here on this desk or else you will be physically removed from the school,” that girl would have done precisely that – laid her phone on the desk without incident.
It is beyond time for our society to reevaluate our methods of dealing with our children and teens. This is not because children are “entitled or spoiled brats,” but rather because there are better ways to help them deal with their very complex emotions, and because we cannot expect children to be emotion-less robots. Our children deserve the best from us and deserve the best from law enforcement. This cannot happen until we begin to demand it – and first we must stare our relationship with violence in the face. We each have a troubled past with violence.
Lord in your mercy, teach us how to practice peace, the way you showed us. Teach us to suffer the children, as they are messy and insolent and defiant, but they are of immeasurable sacred worth.
My stomach churns watching the news and my Facebook feeds right now. Watching a young, precocious, African-American woman being violently thrown to the ground by a white, male police officer makes me feel all the worst feels.
There should be no doubt or question in our minds that this is a clear and blatant instance of domestic violence against this young woman who was sitting in her seat in class. Domestic violence in our schools: an entrusted police officer, sworn to protect and serve the students of that school, suddenly and overtly begins brutally attacking the student who had recognized her wrong-doing (using her cell phone in class) and was asking to not be removed from her class (which is certainly within our rights to do – we should be able to advocate for ourselves, to apologize when we broke a rule, and given the chance to make it right).
As a survivor and former victim of abuse, I am triggered watching those images. I am triggered by my own horror stories of a white man who had sworn to love and honor me, towering over me and using his 280+ lb. body to forcefully control my behavior that he thought was out of control. In reality it was his behavior that was out of control.
As a woman watching these images, my spine becomes frozen in place by a cold, stiff hand of terror because someone who had sworn to uphold the (fair and just) law was clearly breaking the law.
As a white woman I am ashamed watching these images – that the police officer in the videos could be the guy I went to high school with, could be my former co-worker, he is someone who grew up probably a lot like I grew up, with the same values and traditions and biases.
As an advocate watching these images, the hair stands up on the back of my neck. I ponder quietly, if I had been there, would I have had the guts to yank that police officer off of her and give him a piece of my mind? Could I have been fearless enough to risk my own arrest and violence against my own person, in defense of this young woman?
As a mother I am outraged at these images. If this were my daughter, and I got that phone call, and I saw that video appear in my feed, would I be able to afford to pursue litigation in order to demand justice for my daughter? Would I, if I were a black mother, have the resources and ability to sue the police department of my county? Would I be able to walk back into my daughter’s school without burning down the place? Would I be able to look that principal in the eye ever again without burning my stare right through his or her heart?
As a former youth, a former student who trusted the security team at my school, I weep. I weep that those who are sworn to “protect me” are the very ones who committed horrendous acts against my body and my person. Men love to make themselves heroes at my expense, men love to tell themselves that they love me and they wish to protect me. What my actual experience has taught me, however, is that men will commit evil against me while saying they are protecting me. That they are protecting me from myself. Men will tell me to my face that they must commit violence against me in order to protect me from myself.
That is precisely what this police officer did to this young woman, and also to the girl who tried to defend her. That officer beat them down to protect themselves from worse. I have been studying patterns of abuse against women for six years of my life now. I fail to understand how being body-slammed and dragged out of my chair would be better for me than punishment. Most teachers post a very clear classroom code of conduct, including consequences of using a cell phone in class. Being rejected from the classroom or sent to the principal’s office are certainly reasonable consequences; having one’s head beaten to the ground in a violent act of aggression is not a reasonable consequence.
Just like fathers who guilt and shame their daughters so they won’t have sex until they are married, but then when the girl falls in love they threaten violence against her boyfriend because she can’t possibly know what love is. So he feels he must protect her from herself.
I call this form of punishment that occurs before crimes are even committed, a form of self-fulfilling prophecy that men brandish against women. The list of behaviors that women are expected to conform with are long and strict and restrictive and oppressive – and fathers and husbands and police officers line up to “punish” women and girls for stepping out of that conformist oppressive line. Women are told that only “bad guys” will mistreat them, stay away from the bad guys because those are the ones who will be mean and nasty to you. But then when women report abuse, and when women are filmed being abused, it is always the ones who are supposed to be good guys that are abusing them. It is almost as if men were so anxious to prove to women just how mean men can be, that they themselves must be mean to them in order to prove just how mean men can be.
This is the dynamic of abuse, when it occurs by those in position of trust and authority. Those who are sworn to protect, but then end up harming the very ones they swore to protect – this particular officer has other cases against him so I’m not even sure he has ever seen his position as a position of protecting, but rather as a position of unquestioned authority. Unquestioned authority will always abuse the power it is given.
I am positive that there is not a single behavior code in American schools that calls out for women to be beaten into the ground for using a cell phone in class. Nor is there a requirement that calls for dragging a student by her neck when she asks to please not be removed from her class, that she promises to behave herself. And I know that no parent has ever signed a code of conduct that included being arrested for standing up when a police officer abuses his power and authority. These are fear tactics and emotional warfare being used against women, being used against Black women who happen to still be minors.
The message is clear: if you are a woman, and you step out of the line of expected behavior, you can expect the men in authority over your life to make your worst nightmares come true. If you are that woman, you don’t have to wait for the bad guy to find you in the dark alley, the bad guy is the one who swore to protect you. The bad guy is the one you trusted.
Sandra Bland Was Taking Control
**In this article I intend to show how Sandra took control of her abusive situation with a cop who had over-extended his authority, in an effort to get the situation over with. This post will reference abuse and intimate partner violence. In no way am I asserting that Sandra was a victim of domestic violence. But her behavior has a familiar ring to it. This article will explore that familiarity.**
I watched the videos that have surfaced showing Sandra Bland’s arrest, and have read the transcript of her altercation and subsequent arrest in a strange town in Texas. Make no mistake that police officer completely overstepped his bounds and treated her absolutely with less than dignity. And everyone is asking the question: “Why did Sandra appear to goad him along during her detainment by this cop?”
My immediate response is, “Actually, every one of us would have responded the same way, if we are truly honest with ourselves, because every one of us would have been deeply offended by his attitude towards her.” Many white people have shown instances where they have been equally hostile towards a police officer, and were let go with only a warning or a ticket. Just YouTube that.
But upon further reflection, I came to the realization that Sandra was more than just mouthy. She was doing more than simply asserting her rights. She was surviving. She knew where that whole interaction was going. She knew that cop had lost sight of her humanity, and she knew things were going down. It really didn’t matter what she said or did, he was going to play this out in exactly the way it played out.
What Sandra did, was take control of an out-of-control situation, by speaking exactly what he was doing, as he was doing. She was calling out his explosive behaviors, in an effort to survive. This is a difficult concept to understand or grasp, but I’m going to work with some of Alice Walker’s theories on intimate partner violence to try to explain it.
Women who are deeply entangled in a relationship domineered by abuse are often viewed as having no control. They often feel as though they have lost control over the situation, but these women quickly learn that they can manage the abuse in some ways. They learn how to control when the abuse occurs and, to some extent, how long it goes on. Women who are in abusive relationships learn to escalate the abuse quickly, in order to get it over with. Their language might look like goading, it might look a lot like Sandra’s language, almost taunting the perpetrator.
Typically, when women do this in abusive relationships, they know who they are dealing with. They know the exact point the perpetrator will go to, and then he will stop. They know what he will do and how far he will go. This is a victim’s way of exerting some sort of control over the situation, and her way of trying to survive.
When a victim does this and does not survive, however, that means the perpetrator went even beyond his own limits. The escalation went beyond either person’s expectation, and the victim died. Sometimes the escalation happens with the victim, and the victim ends up killing the perpetrator.
Sandra’s words and behavior sound an awful lot like a woman trying to exercise control over an uncontrollable situation, by at least bringing the abuse on in order to get it over with. I have no way of knowing whether Sandra had been abused in her past, or whether she has witnessed abuse in her past, but her language has that familiar feel to it. I don’t think she set out to make this happen, in any way, shape or form. But I do think she knew it was out of her control and her survival instincts set in.
Regardless of what her behavior and words sound like, she deserved better treatment from that cop, and from that jail, than she received. She was stripped of her human dignity, reduced to a few words and a very grainy video. May her words haunt us, and, just like her mother has requested, may the anger be channeled to do good and make changes happen.
Reality Vs. Distraction
So needless to say, the South is deeply embroiled. As the Confederate flag came down in South Carolina last week, now all the traditional symbols of Confederate power are being questioned. Groups across the entire region are petitioning to have statues removed, even digging up graves of Confederate soldiers.
And of course there are a loyal few who are protesting these removals. I get it, in some ways – I mean, if we remove these symbols how will we remember where we came from? And if we are in danger of forgetting history, aren’t we doomed to repeat it?
I grew up hearing all that, too. I grew up believing that flag represented heritage. My cousin sent me a private message the other day, informing me of my own grandfather’s great-grandfather, who was a soldier in the Confederate army. My cousin claims he never owned slaves, never was interested in politics or whatever, that he just fought to protect what was his. (I never knew this ancestor, and I’m pretty sure my cousin never knew him either, so I’m not sure how he is able to make those assumptions, but those are his words, not mine).
On the other side of this is one of my Facebook friends, Ladale Benson, who wrote yesterday:
What does it mean for me to know that my Great (3x) grandfather possibly died in the trail of tears? My genetic and physical make-up being predominantly influenced by my African heritage, with a touch of native blood, situates me in time and space a certain way, that automatically challenges the norm. This simple analysis is where I find the instinctual calling to resistance. This is one place I find my spiritual cry for justice.
Ladale identifies as Black, but recognizes the diversity in his heritage, and the point of his post was to acknowledge the pain within both of parts of his ancestral heritage. He shares in the pain of his Black grandfathers, who were brought to this country in chains and built this country as unpaid slave workers. He shares the pain of Native American history, in which Red bodies were driven out of this country by bullets and ammo. Yes, these things happened prior to our existence, but the signs and evidence remain with us – Native American people are all but extinct. Black persons in America are still being imprisoned and still face systemic and institutional oppression simply because they are Black.
So I stand in the midst of this – on one side are my white friends and family who take pride in our heritage. Having a soldier who fought bravely in the Confederate army is a symbol of power and pride for white families in the South. But for persons of color the realities of that War meant pain and suffering. Black families were separated by force in the building of this country; white families chose to divide themselves over the right to exploit Black bodies. Native American families were completely eradicated because they did not “fit in” with manifest destiny.
To me the flag is an easy symbol, right? Sure, take it down, but I can still fly it on my car or on the front of my house, and I will, says the white Southern. You can take a flag, but you can’t take my pride in my family heritage, or, in other words, I still hold power in this country and I still have the right to view our history through my own privilege. That privilege tells me that the Civil War was necessary to protect our freedoms – a freedom that included and was built upon exploiting and oppressing Black and Native bodies.
But – but – but – they exclaim – our country was founded on “Christian” principles. Um ok, think that if you wish, but also understand that it was money and wealth that brought whites to this side of the Atlantic. Religion became a convenient cover. The founding of America quickly became a cesspool of human trading – the routes of trafficking thousands of African peoples is well-documented and the South is located squarely in the middle of those routes. And there is nothing Christian about the ownership of bodies.
So religion and this flag become the distraction from reality. In the end, removing the flag will do very little to change reality in America. Religion will do very little to change reality in America – if it made a difference then founding America as a “Christian nation” would have never included owning Black bodies or massacring Native bodies!
But, my cousin says, our forefather never owned a slave. Yep. Perhaps that is the truth. But here’s the cliché of the day – you never had to own a slave to be complicit in the economic system that relied on slavery to function. This soldier, Berryman Glasgow, had to buy feed and seed from someone. Any horses or cattle he owned, came from somewhere. The flour he used to bake his bread came from somewhere, processed from some plant somewhere. And the wood he built his house with, also was more than likely bought from somewhere else. All those industries were reliant on slave labor. Unpaid slaves built the railroads themselves, which were the primary means of shipping supplies. Slaves who never received a penny of reimbursement for their labor, and who are barely recognized when we view the Confederate flag.
Years ago I worked for Forsyth County, the seat of which lies in Winston Salem, NC, and happens to be home of RJR Nabisco. RJR = Reynolds Tobacco, Winston brand cigarettes, Winston cup racing. RJR built an empire in this little area, and tobacco money built the roads, tobacco money paid the taxes for the courthouse to operate, tobacco money kept this economy afloat. When I worked for Forsyth County employees could still smoke at their desk – because tobacco money paid for that desk. When Hanes Mall proposed a smoke-free policy, people boycotted the mall – because tobacco money built that mall.
All the white people in Winston Salem supported the tobacco industry. Many of them had parents and grandparents who had worked in the tobacco industry for years, had retired from tobacco industry, had generated wealth from tobacco industry. I’ve come to realize that RJR was a white empire – Winston’s white people worked there, held blue collar jobs there, took pride in their work there. To be sure, RJR never paid people very much, and you sure can’t say that anyone who worked in tobacco was wealthy, and most of the people who worked in RJR were actually quite poor.
But tobacco and furniture were the mills that white people could work in and still have pride. I know this first hand. My grandparents worked tobacco and furniture. North Carolina in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s was mostly tobacco and furniture and textiles. That was what you did if you didn’t go to college. You worked the mill life. It wasn’t going to make you rich, but you could live off that and if you were lucky, you might get a pension. In the 1980’s, the furniture industry collapsed and my grandparents lost their pension. They had worked for White’s of Mebane for 20+ years, and Hickory White bought out White’s in a capitalistic venture. In the process of that buyout, they conveniently let all their long-time employees, the ones closest to pension, go.
Everything my grandparents had worked so hard for was gone. There was no generational wealth to pass along. Their retirement possibilities vanished before their eyes.
Now don’t get me wrong. Black people worked in those mills too. I was always amazed that Grandma worked with Black people, but she still used language like, “Oh no, you don’t want to be friends with those people.” My Grandma was known to be the one who prayed all through church. She prayed for everybody. She loved everybody. But the big secret was that she still saw Black people as “those people.” I wondered how she could work with Black people, but not be their friends and not talk with them. But truthfully, she didn’t work “with them.” The Blacks held different jobs than she did. They worked different hours than she did. She could hold herself as better than them, because the system allowed her to.
This is where it gets tough, my friends. As poor as my grandparents were, they told themselves at least they weren’t Black. We might have been poor, but we didn’t live in the ghetto. We might have been poor, but we didn’t need food stamps. We might have been poor, but at least we had weekends off to go to church and at least we worked first shift.
What the hell does any of this have to do with that damn flag? Well, we justify our existence and our “heritage” in order to build ourselves up. In the process of flying that flag, we rewrite history, our own personal family histories, as something to be proud of. My family’s work history is something to be proud of – my grandmother spent many years sanding beautiful furniture pieces by hand. She would never be able to afford those beautiful pieces she worked so hard on, but she had pride in her work. But even in her hard work was a painful reality. She was complicit in a system that allowed her to see herself as better than others, simply because she was white.
Regarding the flag, we do the same thing. Having family members that gave their lives in the name of freedom is something to be proud of. But we tend to forget that the Civil War was not fought for freedom for all, nor did it mean freedom for all. And we especially tend to forget that whether the war was fought over slavery or tariffs, it still was fought in order to uphold an economic system that was based on exploiting and othering bodies for monetary profit.
And when we insist on flying that flag, knowing that Black and Native bodies were killed over it without the promise of freedom, we deny that painful part of our history. You know, the painful part where we have to acknowledge that we are part of a system that abuses people. And then we have to admit that we are all abused, somewhat, by this system. My grandma was never paid fully what she was worth. But it was ok, because at least she got to do the honorable work (ie, she didn’t have to mop floors or pick cotton). So that flag represents a sort of false honor – at least our (white) ancestors fought with bravery for freedom and what they thought was right, never mind the bodies they abused in that process.
In fact, we deny so much that persons of color were abused in this system, that we still refuse to hear them when they insist that flag being flown is an insult to them. We deny their reality, in order to build our own (false) reality. This is why removing that flag won’t really change anything – we will find other ways to deny that reality so we can make up our own reality. We already deny reality in many different ways, every single day, just driving to the grocery store. We deny it simply because, in our inner selves, we still consider persons of color “those people.” That has never really changed, even two generations later.
I Know Which Parties the White Kids Crash
Over the weekend some people had a pool party. Sadly, when underage uninvited guests showed up, the hosts of that party called cops. And mayhem ensued.
I cringe because there’s a whole awful lot of hypocritical people who spew their hatred even though they know that white kids act the same way, but white kids get away with it.
You see, I know a little bit about our hometown. I know a little bit about the neighborhood where the white kids in our hometown grow up. I know a little bit about the lake, and the high school, and I know a little bit about what it’s like to be one of the privileged ones. You know, to have the right skin color.
See, I know where all the white kids go on Friday night to crash the golf course. I know how they sneak through the woods to cross the broken fence in the back, so they can trespass on the greens. I know where they collect all the stray golf balls, and then sell them back to the golf club members.
I know where they all go so they can sneak a swim in the lake. I know where they park their cars and where they drop their clothes, and I know the spot where they skinny-dip across the lake to get to the other side.
I know where those same white kids end up camping for the night. There’s a secluded little camping area with a shelter that’s perfect for lighting a fire and getting high. I know how they get back there without being spotted by the park rangers, and I know how late they hang out back there, beer and alcohol served to minors, and drug paraphernalia that can be found left behind, in broad daylight.
On the rainy nights I know where they drop their canoe into the lake to fish, late at night, even though no one is allowed to fish in that lake. But you go out in the rain, because that’s when the fish bite the best. (And because the park rangers don’t like to be out in the rain, so they won’t bother you.)
And I know which judge they call when they drive home, after their late night shenanigans, so they can get bailed out of jail for their fifth DUI.
That is the crap that the white kids who live in our hometown do. But this party that is in the news, was in broad daylight, and these kids showed up during the day. And the hosts of that party, rather than call their parents, called the cops to have them arrested like thugs. The white kids do it at night and no one ever calls the cops on them, no one ever so much as bats an eyelash, and they go home scot-free. The white kids are no more invited onto the golf green at midnight than those children were invited during the daytime. The white kids have no business skinny-dipping in the lake, or midnight fishing on that lake. But no one ever had them arrested and no one ever called authorities to rough them up and no one ever followed current laws on trespassing, when it was the white kids.
And those same white kids speak up in the public forums, supporting the officers and claiming that those hosts had a damn right to be angry and those cops were “just doing their jobs.”
There’s also a big theological problem, if we happen to be reading this story and we happen to claim to follow Christ. The problem is not that Black kids crashed a pool party. The problem is not that white kids trespass after hours and get high on the lake. The problem is that we thought the Black kids did not belong there.
Lemme back up a bit and give some theological reflection. Let’s talk about this Jesus guy for a minute. See, Jesus had a habit of going around the local places and drawing out the people who had no privilege. The man in the cemetery, who people claimed had demons, was chained up so people would feel safe. That man couldn’t work a job. He was dependent on someone having enough compassion to bring him food, just so he could stay alive. Do you think you would have been the person to bring him food? No! We would all have been cultured to stay far away. That’s why people said he had demons – so people would stay away from him.
But Jesus showed up and healed him that day. Jesus didn’t show up and perform a miracle so that God could show how good God was. Jesus showed up and healed that man and released him from his bondage so that people would stop being afraid of him and so that man could be a part of society again. Jesus healed him so he could work a job and have a family and so he could be part of the Temple worship that was a central part of Jewish life.
We do this all the time, people. We determine all the time who are the people who should be here and who shouldn’t. Every person we see, we question whether they have a right to be there or not. One of the biggest atrocities of white supremacy is an automatic assumption that whites belong there. No one gets upset at the white kids on the lake, because it is assumed they have some sort of right to be there. Nevermind the posted laws and regulations that forbid swimming and skinny-dipping. If they happen to be the sons of the judges or of the county commissioners, then of course nobody’s going to say anything because who wants to mess with a judge?!?!
But when Black people are present, their presence is automatically viewed with suspicion. No one thinks, oh they must be such and such members so just turn the other way. Maybe they are the judges’ kids so just let them be. No, when Black people are present, they receive the tenth degree. Why are you here? You don’t have any business being here. Go away and go back where you belong (wherever that is, since it is assumed they don’t belong here).
There’s a funny thing that happened in real estate in my hometown. See, years ago, before the rich neighborhoods were built, lakes were built. Those lakes were only placed in certain areas of town, far away from the railroad tracks, if you know what I mean. Those lakes were built and aggregated and stocked and the dam was built to keep the waters only in certain locations. And now all the land around those lakes belongs to the wealthy. Classified as “lakefront property,” it gets the biggest draw for the biggest buck. Wealthy folk who want the best school in Guilford County move in there.
Funny thing that the other side of the railroad track doesn’t have a fancy lake, no dam to keep the water in certain places, and no “lakefront properties” to be found over there. And that is where the Black folk must stay. That must be where they “belong.” They aren’t invited to the pool, because they don’t belong at the pool.
So what about this Jesus guy? See, Jesus never bought into an idea that certain people only belonged in certain places. He had this novel idea that even women (who bleed!) belonged in the most holy of holy places, so he ripped the veil. He had a brilliant social structure that put the bottom on the top, and the top on the bottom. The last would come first, the first would come last. Those who lived furthest away from the lake would be the first to claim prime real estate in the new social order.
And then he called for the Kingdom of God to be brought to earth. He called for the last to be first, God’s will, even on earth as it is in Heaven.
So that means all the Black folk, who were denied entry before, now deserve and are owed the same access. So if we aren’t going to bat an eyelash over the white kids crashing the green, we can’t be upset over the Black kids crashing the pool party. Jesus lifted the veil of suspicion over Black bodies, my friends. Black skin is not to be feared, Black persons are not to be kept out.
Jesus invited the tax collector to dinner. I’m sure everyone else was like, But Jesus, I don’t want to sit next to him because he reeks of all the times I had to pay that dude! I pay him my taxes, I don’t eat dinner with him! And Jesus gently reminded everyone that when it is Jesus’ table, all are invited. When the golf course belongs to Jesus, all must be invited. When Jesus runs the pool membership, it’s open day.
We humans don’t feel very safe when all are invited. We are likely to think that the little girl wearing a yellow bikini, must be a very big threat so we must chain her up like the guy in the cemetery. She didn’t belong there, so get her out by any means necessary. By any means necessary. Keep the lines drawn, people, so we can all feel safe. So white people can maintain their property values.
But Jesus called a different social order, my friends. Jesus called a social order such that, when those showed up who didn’t belong, we are called to invite them in. We are called to share our privilege. We are called to roll the red carpet to those who were kept out. We are called to feed those children who showed up, and we are called to make sure they get home safely when the party is over. Calling cops on Black bodies never ensures anyone gets home safely, of this we can be assured.
How can Christians be peace-keepers and peace-makers? View this incident through a different lens, my friends. Remember your own mischievous self at the tender age of sixteen: new license, new friends, new privileges that you were eager to see just how far you could bend the rules. Let me show you where the white kids go to break the rules and let me show you how many rules they can break in one weekend, without ever getting caught. And then remember that the uninvited ones, the ones we kept out, are precisely the ones Jesus invites in. May we open doors, rather than call cops. May we extend generosity and friendship, rather than police. May we make dignity, rather than humiliation and escalation, the mark of the Kingdom.