What I’m Tempted to Do When Another Black Man Gets Killed

smgianotti@me.com  —  September 22, 2016

Currently, my Facebook newsfeed teems with anger, grief, and arguments about Terrance Crutcher and Keith Scott, the last two black men killed by cops, and the protests their deaths have sparked. I’m tempted to take that break from Facebook I always think about, just so that I can distance myself from the chaos. 

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I’m tempted to stay quiet and neutral as the news unfolds, reserving judgement, because that’s an emotionally safe place to be. I don’t know these men. I don’t have all the details. 

But in a world where nothing is clear cut, how much information do I need before I’ll cry out for justice?

I’m tempted to scroll past people’s outrage, because it confuses and scares me. It feels like they’re overreacting. The newspapers say he had drugs after all. The police say it was a gun and not a book. 

But what if their outrage, like God’s anger in the book of Micah, highlights a real problem? 

I’m tempted to condemn the protests that turn into riots. Breaking into a Walmart is clearly unhelpful. Shooting a fellow civilian and injuring a policeman is evil regardless of the circumstances that provoked it. 

But when did I earn the right to ignore people’s hurt on the basis of their behavior?

This is not the way of Jesus. He entered uncomfortable spaces to bring others comfort (Phil 2:6-7). He listened to the need underneath people’s violence (Luke 23:34).1 He shouldered pain to save others from it (John 3:16). 

As many people in our country respond in grief and anger to another couple of black men killed by cops, we choose how to respond. We can let the voices on Twitter or CNN guide us or we can search the Bible for answers, asking the Holy Spirit for help.

This is our moment to be like Jesus. To enter into a pain that isn’t ours. To let the Holy Spirit define how we hear a story we might rather avoid. To face the reality that love, in a very real sense, means being our brother’s keeper. 

“If one of you says to them, “Go in peace…,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:16)

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

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1 Listening deeply is the first step to love. It also tends to make us feel uncomfortable, overwhelmed, or both. Here’s an article I found helpful on learning how to listen to the lament in people’s anger over racial injustice. 


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One response to What I’m Tempted to Do When Another Black Man Gets Killed

  1. I have told my children to never do anything to upset a police officer. We never know what is going on in their minds. Some police are wonderful but we don’t know how the officer will react. Listen & follow directions. No one wants to be tazzed or shot.