I have been enriched and blessed by your ministry – specifically your writing – on many occasions. You have challenged me and pushed me to think differently about a whole host of issues. And, I have been better because of it.
The events unraveling in Ferguson are not much different. I understand and agree with your call for evangelical leaders to do more than simply lament what has happened, and what is happening. I agree with your assessment that we have tended to ignore who our neighbor really is; that we have often failed to speak on behalf of the poor, the oppressed, and the disenfranchised. Frankly, we have failed to do so because there is little in it for us. After all, unemployed, young black males are not the folks needed to build multi-million dollar facilities and international ministries. You are right to call us to more. To something better. To put the gospel into action.
I am reaching out to you in this way, because I have no method of contacting you directly. I attempted to send you a direct message via Twitter, but that option was unavailable to me. So, I have turned to my own, little read blog, to do so.
I mentioned you in a tweet today about the #Ferguson situation. That tweet read: “Defending criminal behavior because of perps skin color is sin, not understanding.” I included both you and Matt Chandler in that tweet for a reason. In both of your writings over the past few days I have detected a blindness to your own biases. A blindness to wanting to know what really happened between Officer Wilson and Michael Brown before we issue calls for actions or even make laments. That blindness was illustrated in your reply to me: “By that, do you mean we shouldn’t defend Wilson because he is white? I didn’t think so.” In so doing, you dismissively made the very kind of racial stereotype that you would call others to avoid.
You assume(d) that, because I am white, my tweet was a blanket defense of Wilson and an indictment of Brown. When, in reality, it could just as easily been read as a defense of Brown. But, you did not read it that way. Why? Simply and sadly, you judged my tweet by the color of my skin, not the content of my character – to borrow a line from one of my heroes. I’m saddened by that because, until men like you and I can engage with each other without making sinful assumptions, we will never become the kind of evangelical community that can offer help and hope to the people in Ferguson, and beyond.
Thabiti, I have immense respect for you. You have far more eloquence and are far sharper than I am on a wide variety of issues. It is for that reason that I ask you to consider, for a moment, why you would call on evangelicalism to “stop putting people on trial before you grant them mercy” and at the same time you yourself act as judge and jury by declaring police officers “perpetrators” when they have been involved in the shooting of an unarmed person. (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2014/08/19/is-it-goodbye-evangelicalism-or-we-join-you-in-your-suffering/). Do you not know that there are justifiable reasons that law enforcement officers (and private citizens in some states) have for using deadly force, even when an assailant is unarmed? Thabiti, if you want a consistent, gospel-saturated call to action by evangelicals, you must not only lead the lament. You must be consistent to do yourself what you call on the rest of us to do.
Grace to you,