I have witnessed many riots, looting, and just pure disorder in my home country. To someone from the outside looking in, my people might have looked like a generation of barbaric, uncivilized people that lacked the level of intellect required to form a normal working society. I can’t say that I never judged those leading riots and looting myself. Those forms of protests always disrupted my “comfortable” life. So like many other “comfortable” nationals, I dreamed of one day relocating to a more orderly, justice-driven community.
The place where I live right now shows exactly why justice, equal opportunities for all, and respect for all are essential to having a working and civilized society. No, my people back home were never barbaric. They were simply feeling helpless in the face of social economic oppression which leads them to the end of their rope. This feeling of helplessness will lead anyone to take drastic measures in order to turn the odds in their favor. Sure, it’s easy to condemn those acts; looting is not always getting at those who enable the oppression that we feel. I personally don’t believe it fixes even an inch of the problem. In my home country, it feels like those actions only set us back further, putting us in the perpetual rebuilding stage. But we can only protect what we have, right? Helplessness only makes you realize that you have nothing more to lose.
Black people in my community right now are feeling helpless. I wracked my mind trying to think of what I would have done differently if I was Mr. Floyd to escape such a tragic death, a way to somehow “de-weaponize” my beautifully complected skin color. Would I have surrendered? Wait, he did that. Would I have cried out for mercy? Again, he did that. The man was vulnerable, powerless and helpless at the mercy of those whose job was to protect. Instead of doing the bare minimum, their job, they denied a soul his rights, that of being a human, because of his skin color. Maybe the only thing he could have done was to change his skin color, right then and there.
Yet we don’t have this power. So yes, I feel helpless right now. My generation, ones before me, and probably those that will come later, will continue to bear this overwhelming, and crippling, feeling of helplessness that will continue to lead to drastic, and, sure, maybe (from the outside looking in) uncivilized and barbaric measures. This will be our outcry until a 180 shift happens in this system that is currently only fighting against us. It will be our way of drawing attention to how much oppression has taken from us to the point of no longer having anything to lose, to how many of our kids will grow up without their dad, how many daughters won’t have their father to walk them down the aisle, how many young men will end up joining gangs because that is their only way to provide for their families.
I wish we could find a better way. I wish everyone could hold on to the hope that is in Jesus. I wish everyone could practice self-control and let Jesus fight on their behalf. But right now, so many don’t have that. The oppressed will speak and they will be loud. Before judging them, ask yourself if you would do anything different should your comfort and privileges be taken away. Think of what would happen to your civilized-self when you become helpless and desperate without Jesus.
Because here is the reality; black people are afraid to drive, afraid to go for a run, afraid to get pulled over, afraid to reach for their license, afraid to raise their head to speak. Some may be afraid to stand for their rights, afraid to breathe, afraid to live. We are afraid. I am afraid. Something’s gotta give and right now that something is “civilization” for, what some are calling, “barbarism.”