I am a Christian and a black man. My wife and I wife attend a majority-white church in central New Jersey. We are not an anomaly. The few majority-white churches I’ve visited over the past several years had significant sprinkles of black folks in their pews. Our faith has served an important personal, communal and spiritual role in our lives. It is a source of strength, comfort and guidance, especially in times of hopelessness. My new church has been great at supporting my spiritual growth; however, more recently, I am unable to escape my frustration with the silence on race and racism.
I have been deeply and painfully grieved by the torrent of unprovoked killings over the past several years of young brothers. The events surrounding the deaths of Jordan Davis, Michael Brown and John Crawford were some of the most ugly and bigoted things I’ve witnessed in my lifetime—from the media’s attempted shaming of the teenage victims by drudging up signs of “troubled adolescence” to the “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets worn by Ferguson, Mo., police.
A recent New York Times poll shows deep divisions between black and white perceptions of the significance of race and racism in the death of Brown and is evidence that America’s race problem is much bigger than we thought. The problem isn’t that we, as African Americans, see race as a factor. The problem is that different lives have different value, and the value of young black life is at a shocking low in the 21st century.