An Extreme Shift in Our Cultural Paradigm

My loves, and others,

In the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, we have witnessed a new wave of outrage and protests not seen in quite decades.  Ferguson businesses were looted and burned down.  There were angry riots and the flipping over of police vehicles.  Elsewhere, many across the nation were unified in peaceful demonstrations.  The theme across the nation is to #shutitdown.  Stop the murder of unarmed, defenseless black boys.  Stop the disproportionate use of lethal force and heavy-handed penalties against minorities.

In my heart, I sympathize with the parents, family members, friends, and associates of the recently passed.  It is a tragic thing for a young life to end, especially in a violent manner.  It is something that must stop.  So how do we stop this from happening again?

We start with perception.  The perception of minority groups has to change.  This is accomplished by changing our expectations of others and our actions.

When I look into the mirror, I see a young, bald, black man… under no pre-defined terms.  As in, when I look into the mirror and see a black person, I have no predetermined expectations as to how I am to think, behave, or speak.  I have no predetermined rules as to what my interests are to be, what kind of music I listen to, what kind of television shows or movies I am to watch, or with whom I am to associate myself.  When I look in the mirror, I see me.  I am whoever I am, not because I am black, but because I am me.  An individual.

When you are black, other people expect you to “act black”, do “black things”, and speak as black people speak.  It is the same for people who are white, yellow, or brown.  If you do not fit other people’s perceptions of how you should behave, based on stereotypes, others will comment.  I’ve been told many times that I don’t “act black” or that I “act white” or talk like a white person.  (I simply choose to speak clearly and with intelligence.  The fact that this is considered by some black people to be a white attribute is a self-inflicting insult to black people.)  Some said, “You’re not black.”  Some implied non-blacks act blacker than other black people.  When I was born, I was never provided with a manual or contract outlining the terms and conditions of being black.  I wasn’t told that I had to use slang, listen primarily to music associated with black artists, watch black movies, and interact primarily with people of the same skin tone.  I wasn’t told this because we are not and should not fit into a box of behavior because of skin color.

So here is the first perception problem that needs to change.  When you look at someone of a different skin tone, consider the predetermined expectations you have for that person and eradicate them.  When you look at yourself in the mirror, realize that just because you are a particular skin color, it does not mean you cannot step out and do the same thing as someone of another skin color.  That includes dating, courting, and marrying someone of a different skin tone.

Next, we recognize that these predetermined expectations exist and choose to replace them.  This is the hard part.  It requires an extreme shift in our cultural paradigm.

Whether we like it or not, we are all ambassadors.  When we walk outside, we are representing someone or something.  We represent others of the same skin tone, our gender, age group, family, school, employer, religious affiliation, and many others.  When others interact with you, their experiences with you, positive or negative, will register and correlate with other experiences they’ve had with people you represent.  A woman accustomed to being disrespected by men will have an attitude and be more hesitant to talk to men.  However, if a nice man came along and made a positive impression, it might spark optimism.

In other words, and I say this with all due respect, as black people, it is time for us to hold ourselves and each other more accountable for our actions.  Dear black people who do not abide by the law, you make other black people look bad.  Whether we like it or not, we are all in this together.  We desperately need you to pull it together.  I am tired of seeing black people on the news for the wrong reasons.  If you know you live in a society where black people are more likely to be arrested and convicted of crimes, it is of better interest to you to not commit those crimes.  You are black.  You are not going to get away with it.  If you believe a white man will receive lesser punishment and is less likely to be confined than a black man, recognize such injustice exists and don't commit crimes!  Obey the law.

We all need something to survive.  If you are committing crimes for survival’s sake, pray to God for an open door, an opportunity to find honest work that will honor Him and provide for you, then seek out support from those who truly love you in this world.  They are God’s children.  Go to a church and humble yourself.

Here is the solution to our problem: we must tenaciously pursue righteousness and seek out peace with everyone.  Right now, when a young black person commits a crime and gets killed, people call him a thug.  The key to young black men not being looked at as thugs, the key to stopping people from justifying the use of lethal force, the key to changing the disproportionate incarcerations is to be unabashedly righteous.  Be perfect.  Do not waver from any of God’s commandments.  Understand man’s law and do not waver, unless it contradicts God's commandments.  If we are persistently good, who can speak against us?  And if they speak against us, how can their accusations stand when we have a clean record?  It would fill me with so much joy if someone accused a black person of something, but someone objected and said, “I don’t know.  Those black people are so reasonable, responsible, and respectful.  Even when people are unfair towards them, they are humble, polite, and patient.  They are truly godly people.”

How do we become unabashedly righteous?  On our own, we can try, try, and try, and only get so far.  I encourage you to try even if your faith is minuscule.  But true righteousness is from God the Father and through His Son, Jesus.  The black community needs a proactive surge of faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Each and every one of us needs fellowship and relationship with Jesus.  Only through our faith and surrender to Him will our black communities find peace.  And not lukewarm faith.  Not the lean on Jesus only for financial gain, faith.  I’m talking complete submersion, put Him first above all else faith.  This is an essential mission that can unite people of all skin tones.

I want to see the next protesting group come together in prayer, praying for unity and righteousness in the black community.  I want to see thousands of people in the streets, holding hands, praying for the wounds of the past to be healed so that we as a people can move forward.  I want to see people of all skin tones coming together in the streets to glorify God’s name.  I want to see an extreme shift in our cultural paradigm, where black people are seen as a righteous people, not because of our own righteousness, but because God is in us.  Because Jesus Christ is our foundation.

It is time for us to stop beating the dead horse that is the past and focus on today.  We cannot undo the racism of the past.  What we can do is be excellent now.  Other black people, let’s prove to our critics that they are wrong about us.  No matter how discontent you may be with how we are treated on Earth.  There is a better place than this waiting for us if we can re-evaluate our priorities and choices.

Unite and pursue God’s righteousness, and His Kingdom.

I am praying for an extreme shift in our cultural paradigm, a righteous revival in black society, an unwavering dedication to God the Father, His Son our Savior Jesus Christ.  I pray for an intentional pursuit to God’s Kingdom, in Jesus’s name.  Amen.

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